A festive yeast bread, this Chop Suey loaf is filled with candied fruit, nuts and raisins and is topped with a sweet icing.
I’m going to guess that not a lot of people are familiar with Chop Suey Bread, so let me assure you off the top that it has nothing to do with Chinese food. This delicious yeast bread is actually filled with traditional Christmas baking ingredients, such as glace fruit, raisins and nuts, then topped with a sweet icing.
I don’t actually know why it’s called Chop Suey Bread, but I do have a theory. Much like how chop suey is made with odds and ends of meat and vegetables, this bread version is made with odds and ends from traditional Christmas baking.
My Chop Suey Bread is filled with raisins, walnuts and chopped glace fruit mix. You could also throw in some currants or whole or halved, red or green glace cherries, if you like. There aren’t any hard and fast rules here.
Chop Suey Bread is to Christmas what Hot Cross Buns are to Easter and have many of the same ingredients, as well.
If you are looking for a festive bread to add to your holiday season, you can’t go wrong with this one!
Ingredient Notes for Chop Suey Bread
Glace Fruit Mix: Look for this mixture of chopped glace fruit in plastic containers in the baking section at your grocery store, or at Bulk Barn here in Canada. Here’s a link to the glace mix I used, for reference.
Raisins: I love the look of golden raisins in the bread, so would recommend them if you have some. If not, use any type of raisin you have on hand.
Mace: Mace is not a spice everyone is going to have on hand. It’s actually similar to nutmeg though, so if you don’t have mace on hand, substitute nutmeg is equal measure.
Cook’s Notes for Chop Suey Bread
If you’d like to add some whole or halved glace cherries to the bread, reduce your mixed cherries and raisins slightly, so you don’t overload the bread with fruit, which will make rising more difficult.
I suggest removing the dough from a stand mixer to finish with hand-kneading, as the dough is quite bulky and can strain the mixer. If at any time you feel your mixer is straining, just remove it to the counter to finishing kneading in the last of the flour.
The icing for Chop Suey Bread should be fairly thick. Go for a consistency that will run off the side in sheets, rather than drips.
This recipe will make two loaves. I suggest either freezing the extra or gifting it, as it’s shelf life isn’t tremendously long. This bread is best enjoyed on the day it’s baked, but tightly wrapped, will be enjoyable for another day or two.
I love eating Chop Suey bread fresh with a generous spread of butter. It’s also quite tasty toasted, but the icing prevents that option from working out well. If you’d like to have some to toast, you can either leave one of the loaves un-iced or ice just half the loaf, so you can enjoy half toasted and half not.
Top Tip! This yeast bread is a very slow riser, so pack your patience with this one. Count on each of the two rise periods to be 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours each, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Due to the long rise, be sure to grease the top of your loaves during the second rise and cover tightly, to prevent it from drying out and forming a tough crust.
Chop Suey Bread
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3 tsp active dry or instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup milk scalded (*see instructions)
- 6 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar lightly packed
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more needed below
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp mace or additional nutmeg
- 2 tsp fine salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed
- 1 cup chopped glace fruit mix
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup walnuts chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 3-4 Tbsp milk
- To scald the milk: In a small saucepan, heat milk to 180F (if you don't have a thermometer, heat it until it starts to steam and forms small bubbles around the outside of the pan. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- In a small bowl, stir together the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Set aside to proof while you start the dough.
- In a large bowl with a mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the PADDLE attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar. Test your milk to make sure it cooled to lukewarm, then add to the bowl, together with the 1/2 cup water. Add the proofed yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine. Add 2 cups of the flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and salt and stir until well combined.
- In a medium bowl, combine the glace mix, raisins and walnuts. Toss in 1 1/2 Tbsp of flour and set aside.
- Remove the paddle attachment and replace it with the kneading hook (or stop using an electric mixer and proceed with a large wooden spoon, then knead). Add 1 cup more flour and knead in to the mixture. Add another 1/3-1/2 cup of flour and knead in. Add the fruit mixture to the dough, together with about 1/4 cup of flour and mix until combined. Remove dough to a floured counter. Continue adding flour in small increments, kneading in, until you have a moist, but not sticky dough.
- Remove dough to a greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until almost doubled, about 2 hours.
- Remove dough to a floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle about 8-inches wide x 12-14 inches long. Starting from the 8-inch side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Pinch the seams together and place into a greased 8 1/2 x 4-inch loaf pan with the seam side down. Repeat with the other piece of dough into a second greased loaf pan.
- Brush the tops of the dough with a little vegetable oil (or spray with cooking spray) and cover pans with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350F. (not fan assisted).
- When loaves are ready, place into preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the centre of the loaf registers about 195F. (If top of loaf looks like it may over-brown, loosely cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil for the last part of baking).
- Remove loaf from pans to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- For the icing: Add icing sugar to a small bowl. Add 2 Tbsp of milk and stir to combine. Continue adding milk in very small increments, until you have an icing that is not so thick that it's spreadable, but just thin enough to drop off a spoon in a stream. Spoon icing down the centre of the loaf, gently coaxing it towards the edges slightly, so that it move across the top and down the sides a bit. Allow to set-up before slicing bread. (Once set, you can freeze without messing it up).