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.
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.