A cooking and baking journal

One of My Favorites -- A Bread Recipe for You

I've made St. Joseph's Day Bread two times so far and have found it to be the easiest, fastest, and one of the most delicious breads to prepare and bake. I thought it would be a good idea to share with you this recipe, which was taken from A Catholic Calendar of Culinary Customs (visit angeluspress.org to purchase this wonderful calendar) and was tweaked a bit by yours truly. Side note: this edited version of the recipe was published in the March 2009 issue of Saint Maria's Messenger magazine.

St. Joseph's Day Bread

2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening (I used unsalted butter, melted)
2 cups (500 ml) lukewarm water (see bread making tips below)
7 cups (500 g) flour
6 eggs
2 tbsp. sesame or anise seeds
Cooking spray

Directions: Combine yeast, salt, sugar, and water. Pour flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Drop eggs, melted butter, and a few seeds into the well. Stir slowly, and gradually add the yeast mixture.

Knead mixture until you have a smooth, elastic dough. It may be necessary to add some extra water or flour to achieve this.

Spray the inside of a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough inside bowl, flip dough once, and cover bowl with a warm, damp towel. (You flip dough in order for the oil to cover the top.) Leave in a warm place until doubled (about one hour).

Punch dough down, and shape into a huge round flat dough nut. As the dough will rise and expand a lot while rising a second time, make sure the hole in the middle is quite large. Place on a large greased baking sheet and sprinkle the remaining seeds on top. Cover and let rest for half an hour. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F (190 C) until done and golden brown (around 25 minutes). The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Serves 10 to 12.

Some bread making tips from me: Activating yeast requires the water you use to be around 120 degrees F. You should not go beyond 130 degrees (as this will kill the yeast) and below 115 (which would be too cool). Many bakers can tell the temperature of the water by feel alone, but you may want to use a cooking thermometer like we did.
It is very important that you keep your dough in a warm place when rising. I found that placing the dough on top of the stove when an open oven is at 200 degrees makes for the perfect environment.

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