Maiden of Michaelmas

This year my daughter is in 9th grade, and at her school it is, according to custom, the 9th grade girls who, garbed in long gowns and flower crowns, will tame the fierce dragon at the school’s Michaelmas festival this week. In honor of this event, I made for the first time a bread maiden to accompany our dragon bread. Perhaps it will become a new household tradition.

If you would like to make your own, here is the recipe I use (on last September’s post). I used 1-1/2 times the recipe for the two figures, which are about 14″ high. Happy Michaelmas, everyone!

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CakeChocSquaresDad

 

Rosh Hashanah

Our household isn’t Jewish, but who can resist the triple attraction of challah, honey-dipped apples, and the seasonal call to work hard at becoming a better person? This year I attempted to follow Smitten Kitchen’s nice clear instructions for braiding the lovely six-strand loaf; however, mine still turned out disappointingly non-round…But my family ate it anyway. L’Shanah Tovah!

Challah&Apples

Bazaar Baking

ChocLeafCake

WalnutWreath

My husband and I were up until the wee hours baking for the Holiday Bazaar at the Washington Waldorf School today. Come have a taste of these and many other goodies; stay for the best bazaar lunch in town; listen to live music; shop for beautiful ceramics, textiles, and jewelry; take your children to the puppet show, or the Magical Maze, or to make unusual handcrafts. Admission is free, but come early, because many items sell out. If last year is any indication, my husband’s Deep Dark Chocolate Leaf Cake certainly will.

Dragon-Baking

Today is the feast of Michaelmas, on which we acknowledge and resolve to transform our Inner Dragons, an ongoing and elusive undertaking that is refreshed by this annual reminder. And it helps to dress ourselves and our table in red, and for breakfast to dine upon freshly baked dragon bread with honey and cider and apples from the Saturday farmers market.

Here is the recipe I use for Dragon Bread. It’s a modification of “Arkansas Hot Rolls,” one I clipped from The Washington Post at the time of Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, a recipe to which we now refer as “Bill’s Buns.” (Now, there’s a fellow who has wrestled impressively with his inner dragons.) Next year I resolve to photograph and post the steps for shaping the dough. The one pictured below is about 18” wide, making enough to share with neighbors.

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Dragon Bread

3/4 cup butter
1 cup scalded milk
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cold water
2 T dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3-1/2 cups unbleached white flour
3 cups whole-wheat flour
More flour as needed

Combine butter and scalded milk and stir until butter is melted. Combine beaten eggs, brown sugar and salt and beat in the cold water.

Soften yeast in the lukewarm water. Combine the three mixtures and then add HALF the flour. Stir well and let this sponge rise about 45 minutes. Then stir down and add the rest of the flour and knead well about ten minutes, adding small handfuls of flour if necessary if the dough is very sticky. (This varies depending upon kind of flour and humidity.) Place in a LARGE bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise for about 2 hours.

Then shape it into a dragon (see directions for this in September 2013)—or into anything you like!—and place it on a buttered baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, with plenty of room around it for a final rising. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for about 50 minutes total. BUT you must do this in stages, covering the crisping brown edges with aluminum foil starting at about 20 minutes, to prevent them from burning. Serve with butter and honey.

CakeStars Dad