Wednesday, December 8

December Baking....Solstice Bread

This is our long-loved "sun bread" recipe, reserved for the Winter and Summer Solstices, but we often make extra batches to give as gifts around this time of year. It is originally from the wonderful book (pg. 199), Circle Round, which many of you may recognize :)


1 packet yeast
1/4c warm water
pinch of sugar
1/2c butter - softened
1/2c brown sugar
1 c  milk (room temperature)
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 TBS grated orange zest
pinch of salt
4 1/2 - 5 1/2 c flour

1) Whisk the pinch of sugar and the yeast into the 1/4 cup of warm water and set it aside to "proof" (foam up and prove that it is frisky!)
2) Cream butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer until smooth.
3) Add eggs and mix again. Then add milk, zest, yeast mixture and salt and mix again.
4) Add 3 cups of the flour, one at a time, blending in each one.
5) At this point the dough is probably getting too thick for the mixer, so begin adding the remainder of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon (then mixing with your hands) after each addition.

6) Turn the slightly sticky dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading, adding flour if necessary. Knead until the dough becomes silky, elastic, and smooth under your hands.
5) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set in a cozy place to rise until doubled.
6) Punch dough down and shape into desired shape (at Solstice we make a large flat disc using all the dough, then use scissors to nip the edges of the disc into sunray shapes...for gift giving, we divide the dough into 3 pieces and make 3 round loaves...sometimes we roll the dough into long ropes and coil them up to make 3 spiral shaped loaves). Lay your loaves on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to rise again, covered with the damp cloth, for 30 or 45 minutes.

7) In a 350 degree oven (pre-heated, of course!), bake for 30 - 45 minutes, depending on whether you have small loaves or one big one. Allow to cool to room temperature before wrapping for gift-giving. Makes great toast, so make sure to save a loaf for yourself !

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