I know this as Crèche Bread, which is French, but from my Scandinavian heritage (go figure). So, one of those things that has been changed and passed down for several generations. I'm not sure where it was altered with the French translation. But Crèche refers to the nativity scene, with Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloth, in a manger. The dough folds over in layers, as if "wrapped" in cloth.
This method works well with yeasted, refrigerator roll doughs. The refrigeration helps relax the dough so that it can be rolled out thin. If you use a standard yeast bread dough, leave it slightly soft (not too much flour), and refrigerate the dough before rolling out.
This folding technique is for a filled bread, but it doesn't have to be, it could be "empty" and just be pretty. The filling can be sweet, such as chopped nuts, raisins, cinnamon and sugar, or sweetened cream cheese topped with jam or lemon curd. Or it can be savory, such as cream cheese, shredded hard cheese, sausage crumbles and/or herbs. The loaf in this photo is for our Christmas morning bread, filled with a sweetened, almond paste.
Have filling ready and waiting.
With chilled dough (just before final rise), on a floured surface, roll out into a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick.
Transfer dough to a large, buttered baking sheet. Some dough might hang over the sides at this point. The sides will be folded over the center, and the ends will be tucked under, after filling.
Use a knife to mark dough, by scoring, into thirds, the length of the rectangle. Don't cut all the way through, just score. These are markings, only. Make the center third slightly wider than the side thirds, as the side strips will stretch while folding.
With a small, sharp knife, cut diagonal strips in the dough, on outer thirds, 1 to 2-inches apart, all the way down the length of the rectangle. Don't cut into the center third.
Place your filling down the center third, and spread to within 1/2-inch of side slits and top and bottom edges.
Flatten and seal the ends, then tuck each end under.
Neaten up the sides and strips, gently.
Allow to rise till double. Optionally, just before baking, you can brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar, coarse salt, and/or chopped or sliced nuts. Bake (375 F degrees, until golden brown, for most doughs).
I baked this loaf the other day, wrapped it in foil, put in the freezer, and will warm it on Christmas morning.