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!
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.
If you’d like to add some whole or halved glacé 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.
Get the Recipe: 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).
Oh, memories of Sudbury, Ontario and having this bread at Christmas! I made your recipe last year and it’s in the bowl rising once again this year. Thanks for the Christmas memory !
It was regularly on the shelves in Muskoka, too Linda and was always one of my favourite breads. So glad you are enjoying it again, too :)
The name chop suey in this bread was because the bread dough was cut up in pieces and the mixed fruit with other nuts or cherries mixed up looking like a somewhat Chinese dish of chop suey. I worked as a baker in 1974 until 1988. Chop Suey Bread was a big seller especially during Easter and Christmas. The BreadMan, a chain of bakeries owned by Jerry McCall in Toronto Ontario was the owner. I went to one of his Franchise Bakeries on Younge Street in 1980 to help expand the business with new recipes they had, and visited McCalls Bake Shop also. My wife made some Chop Suey bread today and seeing this post today was very coincidental. A little poke in the tummy from The Pilsbury Doughboy as I was nicknamed. Bake On.
Hi Daniel and thanks so much for sharing this bit of history! Chop Suey bread was a staple in grocery stores when I was young. It was a favourite of my Mom’s. I didn’t recall it as being a chopped dough though, but that said it was a LONG time ago, so my memory might be faulty :) I had to look long and hard to find a recipe, so if your wife feels like sharing hers, I’d love to try it! ([email protected])
By any chance do you have the recipe or the method? My mum made this and I remember the egg used to get mixed in on the counter as well. It looked like a big glob. Thanks. Carmen
Wow! 500 hits on “chop suey bread” and this is the only one that is not Chinese food lol. Thank you so much for writing this up, I loooooooved this bread growing up in Sudbury and can’t find it any more in Southern Ontario. I love it toasted with butter, what’s a little melted icing in the toaster? Definitely going to try this soon (so much better than hot cross buns too).
Lol! Yes, it’s a bit of an obscure bread in most parts :) Glad you found it! Enjoy :)
This is a great recipe!!
Worked perfectly without any changes or substitutions.
Tastes like hot cross buns in loaf form.
Yes it does! Glad you enjoyed it :) Thanks!
Oh, the memories! I remember my mom buying this at a bakery (Norris Bakery – Kitchener, Ontario). It wasn’t a Christmas time tradition, but It was such a treat! (Icing on bread, what’s not to like!) Adding this to my must make list!
I knew there would be someone else that knows this bread! I remember not that long ago when it was available in from the in-store bakery at grocery stores here in Muskoka. I haven’t seen it in a while, though. And yes, it’s a bread I could definitely eat year-round, but it’s extra good this time of year and a lot easier to find the glace fruit mix :) Enjoy!
Just found this site and this recipe looks good. I’ll be trying it in the next few days.
Does Don’s in Bala still sell these? I seem to recall that it was like their chelsea buns – you have to be there early on a Saturday morning to get any.
Hi Richard and I’m not sure if they still make it at Don’s, but it’s a classic in these parts, so I bet they do :)
I would love to get my hands of one such loaf (love the name by the way:) and look for reasons to enjoy it for as long as I can.. A slice with coffee, then with afternoon coffee, then maybe a French toast version for breakfast the next day and so on:)
Thanks Milena and I love the idea of French toast! I’d never thought of that, but perfect for the holidays :)
You’re right, I’ve never heard of chop suey bread before, but all the ingredients sound like a bread I would enjoy! Love all the dried fruit and Christmas flavours. Perfect for a holiday brunch!
Thanks Leanne :) It’s a Christmas favourite here!
I’ve never heard of Chop Suey Bread Jennifer, but what a great idea for all the odds and ends. Perfect with my morning tea!
Thanks Mary Ann and yes, this is absolutely perfect with a cup of tea!
Never heard of chop suey bread before, but am certainly familiar with the ingredients, especially that fruit…such a holiday baking staple! This bread looks wonderful….perfect for Christmas morning smeared with lots of butter!
Thanks Dawn and yes, I made a Christmas cake this year, so I had leftovers. This bread is a perfect use for it :)
What a fun recipe Jennifer! I love the name, but have never heard of it until now. You are the best bread maker and this is another gorgeous loaf. A slice with butter would be great right now with my morning coffee ;)
Thanks so much, Tricia :)