Every year, my mom and I bake this Christmas bread together. It is a cherished family tradition. Unlike the dreaded fruit cake, this Chilean bread is wonderfully spiced and specked with delicious nuts and real dried fruit not electric-coloured candied “cherries”. The house smells of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon… The smell of Christmas fills the air.
“Growing up [in Chile] every household made their own Christmas bread, it was a type of a national Christmas time tradition. Every family had their own recipe. When visiting family and friends during Christmas time, they would serve pan de pascua and tea or punch.”
My mom used to bake this bread twice each year. Once at her house with meme and again at her nonna’s house. Oddly Meme’s recipe used yeast, like a kind of panettone, while la nonna’s and Tia lily used baking powder. We normally make the one with baking powder because we like the texture.
Makes 4-5 loafs
1 1/2kg flour
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground cinnamon
10 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 c (450g) butter, room temp
4 1/2 c sugar
1 c oil
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c diced dried apricots
1/2 c diced dried pineapple
1 1/2 c diced candied orange zest
1 c raisins
1 c currants
1/2 c diced dried dates or figs
1 c pecans
1 c almond
- Preheat oven to 350F (175°C), butter and flour 4-5 baking loafs
- In a bowl mix flour, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl (the largest you can find!) cream butter and sugar.
- Mix in oil, eggs (about 2-4 at a time), and brandy.
- In three additions, add flour mix to wet ingredients. Mixing well between each addition.
- Fold in all the diced fruit and nuts
- Divide among baking loafs and bake for about 60 min or until cake tester comes out clean
No matter how tired and busy we are, we always make the effort to bake this together. Because, for us, the holidays are about keeping traditions alive and savouring the time with your loved ones. After all we are creating memories that will be cherished for years to come. Happy Holidays!