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How to Make Glazed Kugelhopft, a Delicious Christmas Sweet Bread

Updated on November 30, 2016
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green enjoys whipping up tasty dishes in her home kitchen. She's received many requests for her recipes and is happy to share.

Kugelhopft Topped With a Thick Glaze

Braided Christmas sweet bread with a thick delicious glaze icing.
Braided Christmas sweet bread with a thick delicious glaze icing. | Source

How Do You Make Kugelhopft? Is it Hard to Do?

When people see pictures of my Kugelhopft, I'm always asked two questions: how do you make that? Is it hard to do? While they are wowed at how wonderful this Xmas bread looks, they often fear it must be hard to make.

Kugelhopft is a wonderful Xmas sweet bread to include with your list of annual Christmas treats. Imagine sinking your teeth into a lovely tender sweet bread, with a delicious thick glaze and tasty ingredients inside. And speaking about the inside, it's is almost a pretty as the outside, containing colored red and green peel, nuts, and spices. This bread looks fantastic braided and then glazed, and if you have young children, you can let them put "snow on top" by dusting it with icing sugar. Kugelhopft is tender and delicious and you and your guests may find you have a hard time staying out of it.

This article will walk you through how to make this delicious Christmas treat. It is no harder than putting up a batch of yeast bread and the glaze makes up in minutes.

Favorite Xmas Treat

Out of all my Christmas recipes, this one is my all-time favorite. The blending of flavors is unbeatable.

Starting Your Yeast

  1. Into a large bowl, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Make sure water is not too hot, nor to cool.
  2. Add 1 tsp. of sugar and stir.
  3. Add 1 tbsp. of yeast.
  4. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until yeast is foamy and bubbling.

Into Second Bowl...


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • 2 cups lukewarm water and stir until sugar and butter are melted

Then add:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Add yeast mixture to ingredients in second bowl and stir to combine.

Mixing and Kneading Your Dough

There is no need to measure your flour with this recipe. Start adding flour gradually (a soup bowl makes a good scoop), at first stirring mixture with a wooden spoon and then as it becomes heavier, switching to kneading.

Continue adding flour and start heeling the dough, folding the outer edges into the middle and working your way around your dough ball. Continue kneading until dough is no longer sticky. If you find sticky spots, just add a bit more flour and knead.

You don't want an overly moist dough, which would bake up claggy but neither do you want a dryer bread, so just add enough flour and knead until dough doesn't stick to your hands.

Adding Those Yummy Extras to Your Dough

Now for the fun part. Once you've made your Kugelhopft dough, add in:

  • Cinnamon and ground cloves to taste.
  • Multicolored peel (make sure there's green peel in there). The multicolored peel gives the best flavor, rather than the yellow peel.
  • Sliced red and green cherries, if you have them.
  • Soft red cranberries if you can find them at your market.
  • Raisins.
  • Chopped walnuts.

Add these ingredients to preference. You want to add enough that they are spread evenly through the dough, as seen in the photos. Mix into dough until evenly distributed and if desired, add more. You will knead and fold again to distribute fruit and nuts. And during risings, as you punch your dough down, this will also distribute ingredients throughout the dough.

Setting Your Dough to Rise

Smooth oil over the top of your dough and cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place to rise.

  • Punch down and allow to rise again.
  • Punch down and cut into three portions.

You can make one large loaf on a cookie sheet or loaves using smaller pans. If making smaller loaves, repeat this process.

Braiding Your Kugelhopft Dough

Roll out three portions into a logs about 1-2" thick.

Braid these and form into either rectangular loaves or round loaves.

Place into greased pans to rise.

Baking Tips for Perfect Kugelhopft

  • Place a cookie sheet into the bottom of your oven. This extra sheet prevents the bottoms of your loaves from over-browning as they cook.
  • Bake in a 325 degree oven and reduce heat towards end of cooking time. Allow 40-60 minutes cooking time, depending on the size of your loaves, and check to make sure that loaves don't over-brown. You want tender loaves and overcooking can make the outside crust tough and chewy.
  • When you remove your Kugelhopft from the oven, also remove loaves from pans, so that the steam does not make the bottoms soggy.

Fresh Out of The Oven

Unglazed Christmas Bread
Unglazed Christmas Bread | Source
Closeup of Xmas sweet bread.
Closeup of Xmas sweet bread. | Source

Cooling Loaves

Place on a tea towel or a metal cooling rack to cool.

Making Glaze Icing

In a frying pan, add

  • Butter (2-4 tbps.)
  • Can milk (a splash. More can be added if glaze becomes too thick)
  • Icing sugar (1 cup or more)

These amounts are largely to preference depending on how sweet or buttery you want your glaze to be. Any of the ingredients can be adjusted.

Stir together with a metal whisk or wooden spoon on a moderate heat setting. Keep stirring until no lumps of icing sugar remain. You want mixture gently boiling but not at a hard boil. Continue stirring and watch that bottom doesn't burn. As mixture gently boils, glaze will start to thicken.

If you desire a thinner glaze, do not cook as long. If you want a thick glaze boil until thick. Glaze also sets up as it cools.


  • If glaze thickens too much, add more can milk and stir until blended.
  • If glaze is too thin, add more icing sugar. (Sift it first).

Lovely Glaze

Delicious glaze drizzled over the top.
Delicious glaze drizzled over the top. | Source

Now For The Fun Part!

Drizzle the glaze over your loaves in a back-and-forth motion. Be generous with it.

The glaze will set up quickly, so while it is still soft, you may choose to make cuts in the top of your loaves, so that when slicing all the way through later, glaze (if thick) doesn't break off in chunks.

When this glaze is drizzled over your loaves, you will notice just how impressive and tempting your Kugelhopft looks.


For the best Kugelhopft, it is best to serve these loaves in the days after baking them, rather than making them ahead and freezing. While you can freeze them, the glaze becomes runny as it thaws and is not as nice. If you really want to make these ahead, a better approach would be to make the loaves and freeze them but without the glaze. When you are ready to use them, allow them to thaw completely and then add the glaze to them.

Glazed Kugelhopft--Who Could Resist?

Irresistable! | Source

Sprinkling "Snow on Top"

A neat Christmastime tradition, if you have kids or teens, is to let them put "snow on top." Using a sifter, they can sprinkle icing sugar over the tops of loaves.

Dusted with icing sugar.
Dusted with icing sugar. | Source

Now For a Slice or Two...

Sweet bread on plate for Christmas.
Sweet bread on plate for Christmas. | Source

Rectangle or Round?

As can be seen from the photos, you can place your braided loaves in standard bread pans for rectangular loaves or you can join your braid for a round loaf. This can be baked in a round cake pan or if you don't have that, on a baking sheet.

Well Worth it to Make This Delicious Sweet Bread

There are many types of sweet bread and much depends on the country where they are made. From Jewish challah to Norwegian Julekake to German stollen to Mexican Three Kings Bread to Vanocka. These sweet loaves containing fruit and sometimes glazed, in whatever form they take, truly add something special to the Christmas season. This is one of my most requested recipes and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It is so worth it to make this sweet treat each year and it's a delight to sight and senses.

5 stars from 1 rating of Kugelhopft

© 2014 Athlyn Green


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