Catholic Recipe: St. Barbara's Bread
Spicy bread fitting reminder of St. Barbara, chided by her father according to legend for giving bread to the poor. In Rauris, Austria, miners (whose special patron is St. Barbara) celebrate the day with this special bread.
December 4 was the universal feast of St. Barbara, until the revision of the General Roman Calendar. She was a saint that presented historical difficulties. Her feast is still December 4, but only celebrated locally in various areas.
Heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt to warm (105-115°). Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes. Combine yeast mixture, milk mixture, egg, lemon juice, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Add 1 cup flour and slivered almonds. Mix thoroughly. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth — about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover; let rise in warm place until double — about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Divide into thirds. Make 3 ropes and braid. Place on greased baking sheet. Let rise in warm place until almost double — about 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350° oven 35-40 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack. Frost with Confectioners' Icing. If desired, decorate with almonds.Recipe Source: Festive Bread Book, The by Kathy Cutler, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1982