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Solstice Sun Bread

sunbread by elisa kleven coverThis fall, Lillian happened upon the book Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven at one of our wonderful library branches.  The story tells of a town of animals depressed by the winter cold.  The baker, a long eared dog, creates a loaf of bright yellow rich and warm sun bread. The animals eat it to brighten their days and invite the Sun to share some too. With no direct mention of Winter Solstice, clearly this story celebrates what our family considers central to the holiday: the return of life-giving sunshine.

On the back of the book is a recipe for sun bread. Lil wanted to make it immediately and so we did. The bread is as luscious and sustaining as the story promised.

child making sunbread yeast doughdecorating sun bread solsticesunbread baked solstice bread click for larger pictures

Lil had the idea to shape sun bread dough in the shape of a turkey for Thanksgiving. We added some lemon rind and made some other slight adjustments for better function and flavor.

This coming Tuesday, the shortest day of the year, we will mix flour, eggs, butter, and more to share sun bread with some of our friends.  It just may become an annual tradition.

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Sun Bread adapted from Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven

2 tablespoons active dry yeast 3 tablespoons lukewarm milk 3 eggs, beaten 3 tablespoons sugar 2 - 2 1/2 cups bread flour 1 stick butter, melted 1/2 teaspoon salt zest of one lemon (optional)

1. Mix yeast and milk. Let stand until foamy. 2. Stir in eggs, sugar, 2 cups flour, butter, salt and lemon. Mix well, adding flour as necessary to form a dough. 3. Knead on a floured surface for 8 - 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. 4. Place dough in greased bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. 5. Punch down dough, knead gently, and divide into two portions. 6. With one portion, form a round flat ball to make the sun's face. Use a knife to carve eyes and a mouth. 7. Use a bit of dough from the second half to form a nose. 8. Divide the rest of the second half into six portions. 7. Shape three pieces into puffy triangles. 8. Roll the other three pieces into foot long lengths. Roll them to form snail shapes. 9. Alternate the puffy triangles and snails around the outside of the sun's face. Attach firmly with a bit of water or gently pressing. 10. Cover the sun and allow to rise again in a warm place for about an hour. 11. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the sun bread for about twenty minutes or until lightly brown. 12. Cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy with honey or jam on Solstice!

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Added to Simple Lives Thursday, 22nd edition.