Saint Lucia’s Braided Bread
Originating in Sweden, this delicious confection is baked to celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th.
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 1/2 o 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Glaze and Garnish:
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- Candles (optional)
Warm the milk in a small saucepan, then pour 1/2 cup of it into a large bowl.
Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and let it set for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the remaining milk.
Add the butter and milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk in the eggs, juice, 1/4 cup of 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 minutes, adding more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic and does not 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 it has again doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375°. Bake the bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown, then let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
For the glaze, stir together the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl until smooth.
Drizzle the glaze mix over the bread, then garnish with the cranberries. Finally, add candles, if you’d like. Serves 12.
Hear us, O God, our salvation, that, as we rejoice in keeping the festival of Blessed Lucy, thy virgin and martyr, so we may profit by the tender devotion we gain through her example. Through our Lord. Amen.
Gluten Free Option: Gluten Free Christmas Cookies