Russian Christmas Bread (Krendel or Krendl)

Russian Krendel
  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Rising: 90 mins
  • Yield: 1 large Krendel (20 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
180 Calories
8g Fat
23g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 large Krendel (20 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 94mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 3g
Calcium 34mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Russian Christmas bread, or krendel/krendl, produces a pretzel-shaped sweet yeast bread filled with dried fruits that is left plain or lightly iced. It can alternatively be dusted with confectioners' sugar or sprinkled with coarse sugar before baking.

Some krendels are rolled as for a jellyroll, then coiled into a round shape without forming it into a pretzel. Yet others are simply rolled as for a jellyroll and baked as a cylinder without shaping.

While kulich and paska are traditional for Easter, krendel is the preferred Christmas bread.


  • For the Dough:
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk (warm)
  • 1/4 cup/1/2 stick butter (softened)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • For the Fruit Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup prunes (pitted and chopped)
  • 1/3 cup dried pears (chopped)
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots (chopped)
  • 1 large apple (peeled, cored, and chopped)
  • 1 cup sweet white wine (or white grape juice)
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or milk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water (warm)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this bread is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in 3 tablespoons sugar and the warm milk.

  3. Add the butter, vanilla, salt, egg yolks and 1 1/2 cups of the flour.

  4. Using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.

  6. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Make the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, prunes, pears, apricots, fresh apple, dried pear, and wine or juice to a boil.

  3. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes or until fruit is tender and mixture has thickened like jam, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

Assemble and Bake the Bread

  1. When dough has risen, punch it down.

  2. On a lightly floured surface or between sheets of parchment paper, roll into a 32 x 10-inch rectangle.

  3. Brush with melted butter.

  4. Mix together the cinnamon sugar and sprinkle over the butter.

  5. Spread cooled fruit filling to within 1 inch of edges.

  6. Roll up from the 32-inch side as for a jellyroll. Pinch seam together to seal.

  7. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam-side down.

  8. Form into a pretzel shape or a coil. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

  9. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake bread 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 F.

  10. While the bread is baking, make the glaze by combining the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice or milk, vanilla or almond extract in a small bowl with enough water to make a smooth, runny glaze.

  11. Remove the krendel from oven let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

  12. While still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over the top.

  13. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.