Johnny’s Candy Cane Bread

By Marisa Dabney | Dec 21st, 2015


Johnny Iuzzini’s “Final Week” Technical Bake: Candy Cane Bread 

Makes 1 loaf


For the dough:

• 1/4 oz dry active yeast

• 1/4 cup warm water

• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

• 3/4 cup buttermilk

• 1 large egg

• 2oz granulated sugar

• 1 tsp baking powder

• 24oz bread flour, plus more for dusting

For the Cranberry Jam: 

• 2 1/2 cups cranberries

• 20 oz granulated sugar

• 1/2 cup water

For the Sugared Cranberries: 

• 17 oz granulated sugar

• 1 cup water

• 1 cup cranberries

For the Peppermint Glaze: 

• 8 oz powdered sugar

• 2 Tbsps whole milk

• 1/8 tsp peppermint extract


Candy Cane Bread 

1. Preheat oven to 205C/375F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Prepare an electric mixer with the dough attachment. In the bowl of the electric mixture, combine the yeast with the warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. 

3. With the mixer on, add the butter, buttermilk, egg and sugar. Mix until combined. Add the baking powder. Slowly add the flour 1 cup at a time, leaving about 1/2 cup. The dough should pull away from the bowl. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface (using the remaining 1/2 cup of flour). Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Add in extra flour if the dough becomes too sticky. The dough should be smooth and soft, not tough. 

4. Place dough back into the bowl, cover with a warm towel and place in a warm spot to allow to rise for 30-40 minutes. 

5. Meanwhile, make the cranberry jam and sugared cranberries. 

6. After 30-40 minutes the dough should be ready. You can test it by pressing into the dough and if the indentation stays the dough is ready. 

7. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a ruler for guidance, but the dough into a 20” inch by 12” rectangle. 

8. Remove your cranberry filling from the fridge. Place the filling down the center of your rectangle, creating about a 2 inch thick line of cranberry filling, leaving about 5 inches on each side of the cranberry filling. 

9. Using a ruler, make 1/2 inch cuts, almost to the filling but leaving some space, down the 20” inch sides of your dough. 

10. Bring the 1/2 inch strips from each side together, overlapping as you get to the filling creating a braid like pattern, Repeat until you reach the bottom of your rectangle.

11. Shape and pull the dough gently into the shape of a candy cane. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. 

12. Drizzle with prepared glaze, garnish with sugared cranberries.

Cranberry Jam

1. In a medium sauce pot, combine the cranberries, sugar and water. Stir together. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer.

2. Cook for 30-35 minutes stirring occasionally, or until mixture has thickened, berries have popped and become syrupy. Remove from heat, pour onto a sheet tray and place in fridge to cool until ready to fill your bread. 

Sugared Cranberries

1. Combine 1 cup of sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. 

2. Place cranberries into a small bowl. Once simple syrup is ready, remove from heat and pour directly over cranberries. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. 

3. Strain from liquid. Toss cranberries in 1 cup of granulated sugar. Remove to a wire rack and allow to dry at least 25 minutes or until ready to use. 

Peppermint Glaze

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Set aside until ready to use. Cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the glaze so a crust does not form. 


1. Once the dough is made, you should be able to get everything else going during the rise time.

2. Dough is easy to make and easy to work with if you take your time and do not rush. 

Potential Hazards:

1. Be sure to let the yeast bloom for 5 minutes before adding to the dough.

2. Adding the yeast to hot water can kill it, so make sure the water is not too hot.

3. Adding the flour gradually gives all sorts of leeway as to the consistency of the dough. You want it to be smooth and glossy and non sticky.

4. Do not over mix or over knead the dough, this will create toughness and will create a dense bread.

5. The dough must be proved sufficiently- The dough needs enough time to rise in a warm place. Patience is key here.

6. You must roll and cut the dough evenly to ensure an even bake.

7. When making the cranberry jam, be careful to not take it too far or let it reduce too much.

This can create too hard of a jam and more like a caramel, which you do not want inside a bread

8. Leave enough time to make and cool the jam, as you cannot spread warm jam onto dough.

9. It's very tricky to slide the candy cane on to a tray once all folded up, you don't want the jam to leak pre bake as it will burn. The best thing to do is roll and fold your dough already on the paper and tray. 

10. The sugared cranberries need time to dry.

11. If left uncovered the peppermint glaze will get a crust. If this happens and you stir the glaze, it will create hard lumps and not a smooth glaze. You might have to remake it.

12. Where you place the sugared cranberries is up to you want them to have some element of design.

13. Removing the loaf from the parchment is scary because it is delicate and could crack open. Be patient and allow it to cool before plating it.

14. The braiding should be consistent and even. There should not be random wholes

throughout the braiding.

15. The bottom of the loaf should be cooked through and not raw as should the center of the loaf which should have a beautiful even texture.

16. The high amount of sugar in this bake means it will burn easily so watch the bake carefully.