There are a number of traditions that I have developed over the years for Winter Solstice. In the past, our circle has engaged in an all night celebration ritual, where we set sacred space and then spend the evening baking bread, playing cards, telling stories, drinking with our spirits and deities, and generally celebrating the long night. When the sun finally rises, we greet the dawn, with drums and singing and heavy eyes. Then we crash and sleep through the day.
I would like to offer you my favorite bread to make for Yule - Wish Bread (aka Monkey Bread). This is Starhawk's recipe from the book, Circle Round and I just love making it each year. While I normally share the bread with others, this year I was the only one making wishes. So instead of making each ball its own wish, I made each ball a wish for health and happiness for a specific person in my life.
Mother Winter's Wish Bread
- 2 Tablespoons Dry Yeast
- 1/3 Cup Warm Water
- Sprinkle of Sugar
- 1 Cup Milk (Room Temperature)
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Softened Butter
- 3 Eggs, Beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 Cups Flour
- 1/2 Cup Raisins or Other Small Pieces of Dried Fruit (Optional)
- 1/4 Cup Butter
- 1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Walnuts or Pecans, Chopped (Optional)
Mix the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, milk and salt and blend well. Add the foamy yeast.
Stir in the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is stiff. Turn it out onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and pliant. Oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl and cover it with a moist towel. Let it rise until the dough has doubled.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Melt the butter and brown sugar together. Pour 1/3 of the glaze into the bottom of a Bundt or Tube pan. Sprinkle it with the nuts if you have chosen to include those.
Tear off pieces of dough and roll into balls the size of golf balls. With each ball, make a wish for the new year. You can use the optional pieces of fruit into the middle of the ball. Lay half of the balls down into the bottom of the pan. Pour the second third of the glaze over the balls. Cover with the rest of the balls and the remaining glaze. Cover the pan with a cloth and let it rise again. When the dough has risen about 80%, bake it in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. About 20-30 minutes it, check to see if the top of the bread has browned. Cover it with foil to make sure the top doesn't burn.
When it's done, let it sit for a few minutes.