Wednesday, September 29
Michaelmas baking....Dragon Bread!
Baking Dragon Bread might be my favorite Michaelmas activity. We tell a story of St. Michael subduing the dragon and we use the bread ingredients as story props...it is like an edible puppet show! The inspiration for our story comes from the book All Year Round . If all the ingredients are measured and assembled in advance, the telling of the tale goes very smoothly as the dough takes form in the hands.
The story outline (again, this is adapted from All Year Round) begins with a small and prosperous land with lovely hills, valleys, forests, mountains and happy, hard-working people (sculpt this landscape in the big bowl of flour making a valley in the center).
Then one day a dragon came, foaming and writhing, to lay waste to the land and left it barren (pour the yeasty warm milk in the "valley" and begin stirring to "lay waste" to the landscape)
Darkness came along with freezing ice (throw the salt and sugar down onto the "land") and the people, once happy and so full of light, became unable to work or even smile. (stir and stir to mix the dough).
The angel Michael looked down one day and saw this dark and dismal land and his heart was full of compassion for the people. With one hand he reached for a handful of stars and scattered them on the earth below. (add golden raisins)
With the other hand he took gold from the sun and sent it down upon the land as well. (add egg yolk)
The people were warmed by the stars and the sun and they began to work (mix dough with hands).
The farmers ploughed the land again and sowed their seeds (add sunflower seeds, continue mixing) and soon the crops began to grow.
Michael came to the people and told them to be brave and work hard, to harvest their grain when it was ripe, and to grind it into flour. He told them to knead the flour into dough and bake it into bread, then to share that bread with all...for "each slice that is cut in friendship will warm your hearts and each piece that is eaten will give strength and power to overcome the dragon" (knead)
The people did as Michael told them and, because of their hard-work and bravery,were blessed with prosperity once again. They sang a blessing as they shared their bread. (knead!)
The blessing we use is:
Earth who gives to us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good,
Dear Sun, dear Earth, by you we live -
Many thanks to you we give.
Toucie made Michael with her half of the dough...
...I made the Dragon with my bit of dough.
We thought the results were great :)
Yummy, too...Dragon tail, anyone?
6 c flour (we used white whole wheat)
2 c warm milk
1 tsp. raw sugar
5 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 c melted butter
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 c raw sugar
1/2 c golden raisins (or more! you could use dried apricots or even cheddar cheese for a savory bread)
1 egg yolk
1/4 c sunflower seeds (or more! also, you can use pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or sesame)
-Measure the flour into a big mixing bowl. Set this aside.
-Dissolve the teaspoon of sugar and the yeast into the cup of warm milk. When it is frothy, stir the butter in as well. Set this aside.
-Place the sugar and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
-Place the raisins, egg yolk and seeds each in their own small bowl. Set these aside.
-Arrange all the small bowls near the big mixing bowl of flour, light a candle and begin the story.
-At the end of the story, the dough is ready for its first rising...cover it with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
-Punch it down, shape it (on a baking sheet) and leave it to rise again (about 30 minutes)
-Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour depending on how you divided up the dough (several small loaves or one huge one?) Bread is done when you tap the underside and hear a hollow sound.
Michael defeats the Dragon (yikes! Waldorf action figures??!!)