Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lucia bread

My plan to bake Lucia bread turned out well. It had been awhile since I'd baked bread, and I had to improvise on a few points. I used spelt, white and whole wheat flours in order to complete the 6 cups of flour quota. The recipe originally said to put in 11 tablespoons of butter, and I read it as one tablespoon. I think that was a good idea, anyway. I baked the bread for 5 minutes longer than the recipe said, too. There is quite a variety of recipes out there.

For those attempting to bake bread for the first time, here are some tips that often don't appear in the directions:

1) To make the yeast active, place the yeast in a 1/2 cup warm water and "feed" it with a pinch of sugar. After 10 minutes, if the mixture bubbles up and smells like yeast, you know the yeast will actually make your bread rise.

2) Sift your flour(s), especially if they're the weighter flours like whole wheat and spelt. It'll help your bread gain a light, fluffy texture even if you are using healthy flour.

3) If you're in a drafty place, the bread dough may take longer to rise. Sometimes I'll put the bowl of dough in a larger bowl of warm water, and change it regularly so that the dough gets heat.

Bread dough before baking:

Baked Lucia bread:

Here is my modified recipe:

Lucia Bread

1 tablespoon butter
6 cups flour
2/3 cups sugar
3 packages dry yeast or 1 2/3 oz. fresh yeast
2 cups milk
1 gram saffron -OR- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 15 drops yellow food color
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
1 egg

Grind saffron with a little sugar in a mortar and pestle. Melt butter, add milk and heat to 130° (too hot to keep your finger in), add salt and saffron. Mix dry ingredients and gradually add the hot milk mixture. Knead the dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise 30 minutes. Knead again. Divide the dough into 30 parts. Roll into traditional shapes,* add raisin decoration and place on a greased sheet. Let rise 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg. Bake 10 minutes at 450° F.

Note: Add 1/2 c. raisins/currants to the dough if you like lots of dried fruit.

In addition to my other raw ingredients, I used up all the saffron. Saffron isn't cheap, but this bread is worth it. In my life, I have never had too many little boxes or bottles of saffron. Hint, hint. Anyway, the bread is delicious. With my next batch, maybeI'll make a Lucia wreath and put candles in it.

*Here are the traditional shapes:

Thanks to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for the link.


themoy said...

I'll try it! I love baking bread.

Nonnyhatesbeta said...

Honestly, could you BE any cuter?

Saints and Spinners said...

Nonnyhatesbeta: There's only one way I could be any cuter, and that would be if I had Star Wars boxer shorts. Ahem.

The Moy: Let me know how it turns out!

Philip said...

1/2 cup raisins raisins

Raisins raisins? Are these the extremely talented but little-known raisins that are only appreciated by other raisins, like a musician's musician?

Saints and Spinners said...

Philip: Never underestimate raisins raisins. In terms of taste, texture and vintage, they are unparalleled. If you don't use raisins raisins in your recipes, you might as well call it quits. Or use chocolate chips.