Food for Soul’s Christmas Bread

It doesn’t matter what ingredients we have available: sometimes the most diverse ones, if combined with love, can result in something beautiful and unexpected. This is the philosophy behind one of the most traditional Christmas recipes in Modena, home to the Food for Soul team.


For many years now, Modena has adopted us and made us feel at home. And what better way to celebrate this charming, small town in the Emilia-Romagna region, than to prepare a recipe that speaks of the territory and its traditions? 

The recipe of the Christmas Bread comes from the Rezdore (the guardians of Modena’s culinary traditions) who jealousy hide their family recipes, passing them down from generation to generation. It’s a dessert typically prepared during the holiday season: it looks like a beautiful dark bread brushed on the outside with saba, a syrup obtained from grape must.

Usually prepared in many different ways, every family has its own personal version of this recipe. Historically, the Christmas Bread used to be made with recovered ingredients from the Christmas lunch. Today, those who still prepare it at home, make large quantities of it and share it with their neighbors and friends.

It used to be called “Big Christmas Bread” and was nothing more than a loaf of bread with peanuts and walnuts. A cross used to be drawn on the top of the bread and indicated where it would be cut into different pieces and shared between family members. The traditional recipe then developed, incorporating dried fruit, jam, chocolate, raisins and other ingredients. 

The peculiarity of this dessert is that the filling ends up being different in each slice making each bite unique. Just like our team, where different stories and personalities meet to achieve a common goal: transforming awareness into action.

With our own version of the Christmas Bread, we tried to convey why Cooking is an Act of Love to us. Each one of us identified an ingredient that we associate with where we grew up and that is often wasted during the holiday season, to demonstrate that sometimes a pinch of creativity and attention is all we need.


Cooking is…..

  • “Cooking is when we transform our environment – what surrounds us – into culture, society and dreams. Just like the French anthropologist Lévi-Strauss once said, we went from the “raw to the cooked”. This transformation changed us, made us human. And it still does. Everytime. It makes us look beyond ourselves and that’s what nourishes us. It’s what makes us human beings able to care and love.”Cristina, from Venezuela, says chocolate is one of the most wasted ingredients during the holidays.


  • “Cooking means taking care of your loved ones.” Andrea from Croatia recommends re-using walnuts, a memory from her childhood.


  • “Cooking is an act of love because it’s a universal way to take care of those around us – whether they are family, friends, customers or neighbours”Camilla is italian and comes from near Lecco. The Christmas holidays remind her of dried chestnuts.


  • “You can feed yourself – satisfy a primary need – or you can cook and adding your personal touch to simple ingredients. It could be your story, your memory, your culture. Someone who cooks is someone who gives back, and what they gift people is the most democratic and free form of love there is.”Laura, born and raised in Modena, adds to the recipe the saba prepared by her grandmother.


  • “Cooking is an act of love because it is designed to bring people together.”Caroline from Charleston, South Carolina, chose peanuts, an ingredients that is highly consumed during the Christmas holidays throughout the US.


  • “Cooking is an act of love because it means transferring your positive, creative energy to one dish and gift it to someone else. And that’s the most amazing gift to receive.”Caterina, comes from Milano and thought of candied fruit.


  • “For me cooking is family.” – Bianca, from Verona, added almonds to our recipe.


  • Cooking is an act of love, whispering the value of human kindness and compassion. It reminds us to give as much as we receive, with a sense of respect and dignity.”Jill, from San Francisco, suggested the famous california plums


Try to make your own version of Christmas bread and share it with your loved ones.

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Christmas Bread


  • 50 gr of chocolate
  • 200 gr of sugar
  • 100 gr of candied fruit
  • 250 gr of California plums
  • 300 gr of dried chestnuts 
  • 2 Saba spoons 
  • Plum jam 
  • 350 gr of walnuts
  • 330 gr of peanuts 
  • A handful of pine nuts and almonds
  • 1 lemon peel
  • Butter 
  • 1 kg flour
  • Milk
  • Cream (optional)


Prepare the ingredients on the table: chop the candied fruit and dried fruit into small pieces, crumble the chocolate, peel the nuts and rehydrate the plums.

Put the jam in a large bowl and add the candied fruit, the chocolate and the lemon zest. Mix them well until blended. Then let the ingredients rest, even for a whole day.

Take the mixture and add the flour, mixing with a little milk and, if desired, some liquid cream. You can also add a knob of butter, to soften the dough. Finally, add the baking powder and mix well.

Leave the ingredients to rest for about ten minutes, then divide the dough according to the number of baking pans you have. The baking pan should be greased with lard if possible, so the cake doesn’t burn and can be easily taken out of the pan. Make two cross-shaped incisions with a knife on the surface of the cake and bake at 200° for 1 hour and 1 ‘- 1 hour and 20’.

Ten minutes before it’s ready, take the baking pan out of the over and sprinkle the surface of the bread with the saba using a small brush, then put it back in the oven and finish cooking. The heat will allow the bread to absorb the saba and soften the dessert. Once the dessert is out of the oven brush it again with the saba.