Monday, January 4, 2010

Kings Bread

[Updated January 2011]

Ma Torg has graciously invited me to be a periodic contributor here at the Liturgical Year for Little Ones, and I am honored to accept.

I thought I'd dive in with a recipe for your Twelfth Night/Epiphany/Theophany celebration. I know Ma Torg has shared fun ideas for a Twelfth Night party on her other blog.

For now, I'll just offer a simplified recipe for Kings Bread, so called after the three "kings" or magi, the first gentiles to worship the child Jesus as King, God, and Savior of all the nations. Kings bread is formed in a ring or crown shape with jewel-colored candied fruit toppings.

I've adapted a more traditional recipe using the high-moisture method of the excellent Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Fran├žois. (And, oh my goodness, I am now drooling over their newer book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Whole grains, baby! Whole grains! But I digress.)

The wonderful features of the high-moisture method are (1) mix dough one day and bake another, (2) no kneeding needed!

I'm still experimenting with this recipe, so improvements may be posted later. Let me know if you have any tips.

Kings Bread
Mix in a 5-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) container:
  • 3/4 C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1 T granulated yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/2 C (one stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 t lemon extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t lemon zest
Mix in without kneading, using a spoon or stand mixer with dough hook:
  • 3 & 3/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C chopped mixed candied fruit, and/or cranberries and golden raisins
  • 1/4 C chopped almonds and/or other nuts
Cover (not airtight) and rest at room temperature (or in a warmed oven) until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container to chill. Use when chilled and within five days.

When you're ready to bake, grease a baking sheet with a small amount of
  • butter.
Insert into the chilled dough
  • 1 whole almond, 1 raw bean, or 1 well-washed penny.
Dust dough with
  • flour
and quickly form into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Place the ball on the baking sheet, seam side down. Make a four-inch hole in the center and push dough into a ring. Butter the outside of a three or four-inch custard dish and set in the hole.

Loosely cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375┬║.

Remove plastic wrap and brush the loaf with
  • 1 egg beaten with
  • 1 t water.
Press dough lightly with more
  • whole candied fruit/cranberries/golden raisins and
  • whole nuts and/or sliced blanched almonds
Sprinkle top with
  • 1/4 C sugar.
Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden browned on the outside and hollow sounding when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Whoever gets the whole almond/bean/penny in his or her slice of bread can either be king/queen of the Twelfth Night party, or be the one to bring a baby Jesus doll in christening gown on Candelmas (a western tradition--I'm the Western Rite dark horse that Ma Torg is trotting out--Hope you all don't mind my western ways), or be the one to host the Twelfth Night/Epiphany party next year.

Happy and blessed festivities to you all!


Michelle M. said...

This looks like a lot of fun.

We are stuck home with my baby boy who has RSV, so this would be a great thing to do with the children.

I am so sad to be missing Theophany this year!

Arlie said...

Since the 12th day is the day before Theophany it is a strict fast day. Do you have any options for a cake that are fasting? That's what I'm trying to search for for tomorrow, since I'm on the old calendar.



Ma Torg said...

You can make any vegan cake and plant a bean in the dough for an easy King's cake. One of my favorites is the vegan chocolate cake in Joy of Cooking. It is my favorite chocolate cake...even when I'm not fasting!!! Add fried cranberries or cherries for extra zing! Sprinkle powdered sugar on top for extra decoration.