For St. Lucia day (December 13), our girls all dress in something white (bathrobes, dress-up, anything will do), and serve Atticus and me some sort of breakfast in bed. The "some sort" has varied over the years. On a good year, it's the scrumptious bread you'll find below. On an "off" year, it's glazed donuts from the store. But, as I stressed in my "Advent at our house" post, don't stress over the "good years" and "off years." Your kids don't. What they remember is the dressing up, the St. Lucia crowns (often simply made, from construction paper), the procession to your room, the breakfast. (And, sometimes, we even put off the breakfast celebration until a weekend, so that the kids don't have to be up at 6 a.m., serving Atticus before he leaves for work.) In short, they remember the memories you're making.
I got this recipe is from my dear friend, Holly. It's one of the most delicious, sweet breads I've ever tasted. She found it here, at Family Fun.
Here's the recipe:
Braided St. Lucia Bread
1 1/2 cups milk
2 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 T. sugar
6 T. butter, cut in pieces
2 large eggs
1/4 cup orange juice
1 T. finely grated orange rind
1 t. salt
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups flour
Glaze and garnish:
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2-4 T. orange juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Warm the milk in a small saucepan, then pour 1/2 cup of it into a large bowl. Add the yeast and 1 T. of the sugar and let it sit for 5 min.
Melt the butter in the remaining milk. Add butter/milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk in the eggs, juice, 1/4 cup sugar, orange rind, and salt. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 min., adding more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and doesn't stick to your hands. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning it once to coat it. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a 30-inch rope and braid the ropes together. Transfer the braid to a greased baking sheet, pinch together the ends to form a circle and let it rise until doubled in size, about 45 min. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 min., or until golden brown, then let cool on a wire rack about 30 min.
For the glaze, stir together the confectioner's sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over the bread, then garnish with cranberries. Add candles for "wreath."
We'll also read Lissa's Hanna's Christmas (pictured above.) I have to request this via interlibrary loan (and it's in today -- yippee!), which I do every year. After reading Lissa's account of how hard it is to find, I think I'll send a note back with it this time, begging them to please sell it to me if they ever decide to put it in the library sale pile. Not that I want them to sell it -- it really should remain in the library, so as many people as possible can enjoy it. But, hey, you know, if they choose to sell it, I want to make it clear that I have first dibs.
For more and much better ideas than mine (these women actually craft, while I just fake it and make excuses), see Katherine's posts here and here.
And, see Christine's wonderful St. Lucia wreaths here.