Monday, November 8, 2010

The Feast of St Martin

Today I went in to school & took a friend to see the place and to be present in T1's class as they got to light their lanterns, eat their traditional breads, and sing the songs of the feast of St Martin. This was a part of their German language and culture class& the other kids will get to do it later in the week. T2 has it tomorrow and I think SCS has it Wednesday.

The mom who had volunteered to bring the breads had a baking fail, something with which I am all too familiar of late, so I ran to Three Bears and bought 28 mini-Danishes. They certainly weren't the traditional pretzel or goose shaped breads but they made children happy and hey: Denmark is next to Germany. I briefly contemplated croissants instead (St Martin was technically French) but they were more expensive and I knew the kids wouldn't like them nearly as well. Everyone left happy.

Since I have had recent experience with total baking disaster, I resolved to not dally in making the breads for T2s class tomorrow. If I were to totally mess up I thought I should at least have enough time to go to the store. Miss V assembled the dough for me while I took T1 to our friendly neighborhood wood working priest for some help finishing the birthday present Mom had messed up (and Fr. C assured me that the nails in the kit were just way too big and it wasn't really me. I think he was just being nice but I'll take it!) She used the recipe for Finnish Pulla in Baking with Julia and it worked beautifully and tastes lovely. Recipe at the bottom.
Each class gets their own little celebration as part of their German class. They have all made lanterns, learned some songs, and heard stories about both the man and the traditions. But they were not going to get the full experience of walking in a group with their lanterns on a cold evening with the fellowship of family, friends and neighbors. Then some brilliant person had the idea that we could hold a completely optional event outside of school so that anyone who wanted to do it, could. Wednesday evening as dark falls a group will walk a path lit by luminaries into the woods by Finger Lake. Children will carry the lanterns they made and sing the songs they learned and we will end at a bonfire where the story of the life of St Martin will be told. I'm super, duper excited.

The recipe follows. I shamelessly copied and pasted the recipe that  Kellypea at Sass & Veracity painstakingly typed in. She has pictures of the process and video so check out her post for helpful tips. You'll notice that my braid is just a touch lumpy looking. After I cut out the geese I took all the scraps, smooshed them together and made the ropes for the braid of that.Normally it would be all smooth and pretty but I needed geese ! Also, the 24 small geese and 1 large loaf are the result of a doubled recipe. I sprinkled the geese with sugar (Dehyrdrated cane syrup crystals) after the egg wash and their eyes are currants. I found that poking the currants in with the tip of the knife gave the little goosy faces a less deformed look.
Finnish Pulla from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

1 c. milk
1 T active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds (about 7 pods)
1 tsp. salt
2 lg. eggs, slightly beaten, at room temp
4-1/2 to 5 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
1 lg. egg beaten with 1 T milk, for glaze

  1. Heat milk in a small saucepan until small bubbles are visible around the rim of the pan.  Remove from head and let cool to between 105 and 115 degrees F.
  2. In the large bowl of your Kitchen Aid, whisk yeast into the warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes or until yeast is dissolved and creamy.
  3. Whisk in milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, and eggs at medium speed.
  4. Switch to the hook attachment and add 2 c. flour, beating until smooth, occasionally scraping around the bowl to incorporate all the flour.
  5. Add the melted butter, and then keeping count as you go, add flour 1/2 c. at a time until the dough is stiff, but not dry.  (My dough took 4-1/2 c. flour)
  6. Cover and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes before proceeding.
  7. To knead the dough, either use your machine on medium speed until dough is satiny -- OR -- turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead until it is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl making sure the top is oiled.  Cover with plastic and let rise at room temp until doubled in bulk -- about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  9. After dough is done with the first rise, line a baking pan at least 14 " long with parchment.  Then oil a work surface.  The surface should be cool.
  10. To shape the dough, turn it out of the bowl and briefly knead it to deflate it.  Divide it into 3 pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 36 inches long.  Braid the three ropes pressing the ends together and tucking them under the loaf.  Lift the braid onto the parchment.
  11. Cover the braid lightly with plastic that has been lightly oiled or with a kitchen towel.  Let rise at room temp until puffy, but not doubled about 45 minutes.
  12. Brush egg glaze over the bread.
  13. Bake the bread in a preheated 375 degree F oven on the center rack for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden.  Let cool on a rack until room temp.

1 comment:

Anna Seraphima said...

How I wish you lived nearer. St. John's used to make this for Eucharist bread back in the day....(1980's) and called it cardamom braid. Man I miss that smell.

Time to go bake...