Saturday, December 13, 2008

Feast Day: St. Lucy & Lumen Christi

This is the first year we've celebrated St. Lucia Day in the style of the Swedes. After spending time this week reading Kirsten's Surprise (which is a great overview of all the preparation such a holiday requires) from the American Girl Collection, we decided to do this day right!

Seems the Swedes celebrate St. Lucia Day (Lucia is a name that means "light" and St. Lucy in fact is the patron of eye disorders and light) in order to light up the long winter nights caused by living so far north. It is also the kick off to the Christmas season in Sweden.

So, although we're in the midst of Advent, we thought it quite appropriate to adopt the St. Lucy "breakfast-bread in the morning tradition". Normally, a daughter of the house, wearing a crown of evergreen with lit candles blazing in the dark, carries fresh made bread to all the members of the house. I wouldn't let String Brean wear lit candles on her head or let the boys eat breakfast in bed; we compromised with candles on the table and String Bean serving the family the right-from-the-oven buns.

We used Kirsten's Cookbook and made the St. Lucia Buns. String Bean and I made the dough last night and then baked the rolls this morning -- for just-baked freshness at 7:00 a.m.! The recipe calls for saffron -- not something we use much here, but I did happen to have it on the shelf. It gives the rolls a gorgeous golden color and an interesting flavor, too.

Lucia Buns (makes 6)

□ 1/3 cup milk
□ 1/4 cup butter
□ 1/4 cup lukewarm water
□ 2-1/4 tsp dry yeast
□ 1/4 cup sugar
□ 1 egg
□ 1/2 tsp salt
□ 1/4 tsp saffron
□ 2-3/4 cups flour
□ 1 tbls cooking oil
□ 1 egg
□ 1 tbls water
□ 24 raisins
□ Cinnamon-sugar mix

1. Measure the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Stir well and set the bowl aside for 5 minutes to soften the yeast.
2. Warm the milk and butter in a microwave safe container till just warm (about 1 min). Stir until the butter is melted.
3. Add the warm milk and melted butter to the yeast. Stir in the sugar, egg, salt and saffron. Add 1-1/2 cups of the flour and stir until smooth.
4. Add enough of the remaining flour so that you can shape the dough into a ball (about 3/4 of a cup more flour). Use the remaining flour for kneading the dough.
5. Put dough on a floured cutting board – dust your hands with the flour and knead the dough until it’s smooth and springs back – from 5-10 minutes of kneading.
6. Place 1 tbls oil in a bowl and coat the dough ball with the oil by swishing around . Cover with a clean dish-cloth and set to rise until double – about 45-60 minutes.
7. Punch down the dough. Then divide it into 6 sections. Take one section and split it in half – roll into an 8-inch rope. Cross the two ropes in the middle then coil the ends in tight circles. Shape 5 more buns in the same way.
8. Place the buns 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.
9. Next morning: about 2 hours before you want to serve, take the buns out of the ‘frig and place on counter to warm to room temp.
10. Preheat oven to 350.
11. Mix the egg and water with the fork in a small bowl. Brush lightly over the top of each bun. Decorate the buns with raisins (placing one in the center of each swirl). Dust with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
12. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes. When the buns are golden brown, remove from the oven and serve!

These were so good and not too hard to make either. And for those in the family who don't like raisins, the four raisins in each roll are very easy to pick out. String Bean and I can't wait for next year to make these again.

Another light happened today: we're in a homeschool drama club called (appropriately enough) "Lumen Christi" or "Light of Christ". The Winter plays were performed this afternoon at dh's lovely high school theater (I think we're the first theatrical performance in the facility).

The first play, Magician's Nephew, is from the first Narnia book and is the creation of Narnia. Lego Maniac was a talking monkey and had such fun chattering, bounding about the stage and generally being a monkey! He was great!

Kotch helped with make-up and did an excellent job on making her brother look like the monkey he can play a little too well.

The second play was a traditional rendition of the Nativity Story ... from the prophecy to the annunciation ... visitation of Mary to Elizabeth ... journey to Bethlehem for the census ... arrival of the shepherds ... and the adoration of the Magi. String Bean was the angel who tells Joseph: "Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit ....". She was so beautiful and spoke out very clearly. (And it was extremely convenient that she was an angel so that her costume could do double-duty as "St. Lucia" this morning!) BamBam and LegoManiac were soldiers to announce the census and shepherds to visit the Christ Child (played very well by the little sister of the girl playing Mary -- the baby was only a few months old and stole the show!).

After a pizza party in the cafeteria, we headed home with a few close friends for real coffee and Advent time treats: Port Cake, Butter Almond Cookies, and St. Lucia Pepparkrakor (ginger cookies) -- with all the candles we have in the house lit of course!

1 comment:

Aliadelaide said...

Sounds wonderful Mary! Loved the pictures too!