Our Monastic Bake Shop opens for Advent, just in time for people to select delicious home-baked goods for their Christmas table. One of the favorite sweet breads that people return for is the lovely St. Lucia Bread. A rich, dense dough filled with citron, saffron and almonds, and decorated like a wreath, has been a long-standing tradition for our Bakeshop, started by one of our own Sisters, Sr. Lucia.
Traditionally, when we make our first profession as Sisters, we also take on a new name – symbolizing our new life wedded to Christ. Sr. Lucia became a novice in early December. When she was preparing to take her vows, she prayed about what her new name should be. One of the Sisters told her that she had an idea of a name for her. The Sister next to her said, “Now don’t overwhelm our new novice with another big decision!” But she couldn’t bear the suspense, and she told her the name: Lucia. A bit later, a different Sister mentioned that she had received a name for her, and it was the same one! She decided to learn more about who St Lucia was, only to discover that her feast day was celebrated on December 13th — the exact day that the name had been suggested to her! She couldn’t deny that God was speaking. It turns out that her middle name had been Lucille after her maternal grandmother, and years later it was discovered that her actual given name had been Lucia!
- In a large mixer, soften the yeast in the warm water
- Heat the milk until warm. Add the oil and sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add this mixture to the yeast mixture in the mixer
- Add salt and saffron
- Add the 3 slightly beaten eggs and mix with dough hook.
- Add the lemon zest, citron and almonds and continue mixing
- One cup at a time, add the flour and mix well after each addition. Stop adding the flour when the dough starts pulling away from the side of the bowl. Adding more flour if necessary.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 min, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic; adding flour as necessary.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 1 hr. (At this point, you can refrigerate the dough, if you want to work with it later).
- Divide the dough into six equal balls and roll into large ropes and then braid three together, making two braids.
- Pinch the two ends together and tuck under, forming two circular loaves.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with baking paper, or grease, and put a braided loaf on each pan.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled.
- Combine the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush on the braids.
- Bake for about 20-25 min or until the loaf feels firm to the touch. If you would like to use a thermometer, the internal temperature should read about 190 degrees.
- While the bread is baking, prepare your frosting, mixing all ingredients until smooth and on the thicker side. Cut your cherries in half.
- Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly, then decorate, using the green cherries as leaves, and the red as berries.
Years ago when I was younger and had more energy, I frequently made a marvelous chocolate cake. It was really superb, but very labor intensive and time consuming. For example, it had to be baked in a pan lined with a well buttered brown paper bag cut to the exact size of the pan. This was essential to its success.
It required sour cream, butter, lots of brown sugar and many squares of dark chocolate melted to a very specific temperature and then carefully beaten for just the right length of time into a rich velvety fudge frosting.
At the moment I am unable to locate this precious old recipe originally clipped from a worn yellowed newspaper. I am sure it will show up again someday. Until then I have put together a recipe I like making. It doesn’t begin to compare or compete with Miss Simpson’s authentic prize winner, but it is fast, easy, has ice cream baked into it and satisfies many chocolate lovers who have never tasted the old favorite one I used to make.
Suppose we just call it Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Sunday Cake.
Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Sunday Cake
Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Sunday Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Follow cake mix directions on box.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and while still hot cover top with at least 20 marshmallows sliced in half crosswise.
- Let melt and cool.
- Remove to serving plate and pour hot ganache over the top and down the sides.
- Sprinkle with your favorite nuts.
- Heat half and half in top of double boiler to scalding point. Do not boil – add chocolate chips and stir until thoroughly melted.
- Add flavoring and pour immediately on to cake.
- Tip: If you melt the chocolate chips first and then add cold half and half the chocolate will seize up. The half and half needs to be the same temperature as the chips before heating or warmer.