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‘I am the bread of life’

December 23, 2008
by Mary Ann Menendez - Staff Writer

Quoting the Bible, it was the Son of God who said who he was in the simplest of terms.

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)

This proclamation was made during Jesus' ministry. Many hold to the belief that this promise made by Jesus Christ, like all of the others he made, is one that continues to bless believers.

Today we feature bread recipes from the Old World Christian countries in Europe. When you think about it, bread is present at every meal, even those purchased at fast food establishments. It is a food that binds all of us who inhabit this world, and has done so for centuries. While the shape and flavorings made vary from country to country and loaf to loaf, bread is a part of our daily sustenance.

The entire staff at the Estherville Daily News wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!

Grecian

1/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 packet dry yeast

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and mix in the milk, vegetable oil, flours, egg, sugar, salt, cardamom, raisins and walnuts. Stir well until smooth dough is formed. Knead the dough on a floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Put in a greased pan, cover with a damp towel, and set aside to rise for an hour. After the dough is double in size, bake in over at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Slovenian

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup milk, lukewarm

1 cup butter, softened

6 egg yolks

1 and 1/3 cups milk

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup honey

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and 3 tablespoons of the flour in warm milk. Mix well, and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter with the remaining sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yeast mixture, remaining milk, 4 cups of flour and the salt; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Lightly grease one or two cookie sheets. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Spread each piece with melted butter, honey, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. Roll each piece up like a jelly roll and pinch the ends. Place seam side down onto the prepared baking sheets. Let rise until double in volume. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

German

1 1/4 cup dark raisins

1/2 cup mixed candied fruit

1/4 cup chopped citron

1/3 cup currants

1/4 cup dark rum

1 envelope active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

2 large eggs

4 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups chopped almonds

Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a medium bowl, toss fruit with rum. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm milk. Stir in sugar, butter, eggs and 2 cups flour until smooth. Work in remaining flour and gather dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough 5 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Knead in drained fruit. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, let rise, covered, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each piece into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold long side of each to within 1/2 inch of opposite side. Pinch edges. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place stollen on greased baking sheets, cover loosely and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar. Makes 2 loaves.

Sweden (St. Lucia Wreath)

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 F.)

Three-fourths cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon saffron threads (a good pinch)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Two-thirds cup currants

2 eggs, warmed

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour

1 large egg, beaten

Sugar sprinkles, optional

To make the dough: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of sugar. Heat the milk and add the melted butter to it; cool until the mixture is lukewarm. Pulverize the saffron with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a small dish. Add 1 tablespoon of the warm milk-and-butter mixture and allow the saffron to steep for 5 minutes. Add the saffron mixture, milk-and-butter mixture, sugar, salt, currants and eggs to the yeast. Using an electric blender on medium speed, beat until blended. Add 2 cups flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a medium-stiff dough. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and satiny. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to lightly oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. To make a braided wreath: Punch the dough down and divide into 3 parts. With the palms of your hands, roll and shape each part into a rope-like strand about 36 inches long. Braid the strands by aligning them vertically and alternately crossing each outer strand over the center strand. Shape the braid into a circle and place on a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together where they meet to seal the strands and to conceal the beginning and end of the braid. Transfer to the baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles if using. Let rise for about 45 minutes or just until puffy. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and dry. Cool on a rack.

Hungarian

1 package dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup warm water

1 cup butter at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1/4 cup non-fat dry milk

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup ground poppy seeds

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup milk

GLAZE:

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

In a small cup, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Let stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar, salt, 1 tbsp lemon peel, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Then add 2 and 1/2 cups of flour alternately with the yeast mixture. Blend the dough well. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and not sticky. Add more flour as necessary. Put the dough into a greased bowl, turning so the top is greased. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine the poppy seeds, sugar, raisins, milk and the rest of the lemon peel in the top half of a double boiler. Cook it over hot water until the mixture is of spreading consistency. Stir constantly. It should thicken in about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Punch the dough down, divide in half, and roll each piece into a long rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the filling on top of each piece, Then roll up. Pinch the seams together so the filling can't come out. Place the rolls on a large greased baking sheet and brush with the glaze. Cover the rolls with wax paper laid across water glasses so the paper doesn't touch the dough. Let rise again for 30 minutes. Apply a second coat of glaze. Bake the loaves in a preheated 325 degree oven for about an hour. If the top browns too rapidly, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Italian

2 packages yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup non-fat milk solids

3 3/4 cup sifted all purpose flour

2 eggs

Three-fourths teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup white raisins

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

2 tablespoons candied pineapple

1/4 cup candies lemon peel

Soften yeast in lukewarm water. Combine sugar, salt, butter, and remaining water. Combine non-fat milk solids and 1 cup flour. Remove a tablespoon of white from the eggs and reserve for glaze. Add remainder of eggs, vanilla and softened yeast. Beat until smooth. Add 1 cup flour with fruits and nuts. Blend and add remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out on a lightly floured pastry cloth and knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to bring the greased side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (1 hour and 20 minutes). Turn out on a pastry cloth and knead. Shape into a round loaf and place in a greased 8 or 9 inch round cake pan. Brush with egg white, cover, and let rise until double in bulk (40 minutes). Brush again with egg white and bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Cover with foil after 15 minutes of baking to prevent over browning.

 
 

 

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