Updated: Oct 4, 2020
We made a beautiful Dragon Bread for Michaelmas, a harvest loaf recipe and story can bring the process and symbolism of the day to life. You will need quite a large clean surface to do this, I usually do it in the centre of the kitchen table where the children can clearly watch, listen and participate. My recipe and story are adapted from a few, you can find one in the book "All Year Round" by Ann Druit, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling you can purchase it here
500g wholewheat flour + 500g Strong white bread flour
Large tsp brown sugar
25g (5tbsp) Dry Yeast
Scant tsp sea salt
75g white sugar
25g sesame seeds and/or sunflower seeds
500ml warm milk (blood heat)
50g melted butter
1 egg yolk
A little beaten egg or milk
The Harvest Loaf Story
Start to model a landscape out of the flour. Once there was a beautiful land, with rolling hills and valleys, plains and forests. There lived many people in the land and they were very happy, their faces glowed and shone like sunbeams as they worked hard so the land was fruitful and it glowed beautifully with natured light.
Pour in the yeast mixture. It wouldn't always be like this and the time came when darkness fell upon the land, as a mighty dragon moved through the valleys, hills, plains and forests. Before long the dragon has destroyed this beautiful land, leaving it barren and frozen and he disappeared into his dark cave. The people, unable to work, to see the sunshine or the beauty of nature they worked so hard to tend, were frozen too.
Now Archangel Michael looked down from the heavens to the once beautiful land, and seeing it frozen his heart was full of sadness and compassion for it and it's people. He stretched forth his right hand and plucked a handful of stars from the heavens and threw them down to earth. (throw in currants)
With his left hand he gathered sungold from the sky and sent that with grace to the earth. (add whole egg yoke)
When the stars reached the earth they became lumps of black iron, they buried deep into the ground. When the sungold touched the earth the frozen land thawed, as the ice melted the people could feel the blood warming in their entire bodies and they began working again to make good their land. (begin mixing with your hands)
The farmers uncovered their ploughs and ploughed the barren land, sowing seeds to bring new life (sprinkle with seeds)
The iron in the earth gave strength for the crops to grow, and a the grain began to ripen on its tall stems the Archangel Michael spoke softly from the heavens to the happy people. "Harvest the good grain" he commanded them, "grind it into flour, Mix the dough and knead it well." (knead the dough on a floured board)
"Bake it in the oven until it is risen. Place the loaf in the centre of the table and share it with your family and friends. For this will be the harvest loaf: each slice that is cut in friendship will warm your hearts, and each slice that is eaten will give strength and power to overcome the dragon."
The farmers followed what Archangel Michael had told them, they placed the Harvest Loaf on the table and sat with their families and friends and sang in thanks
Earth who gives to us this food
Sun and stars who made it good
Dearest Earth and
Stars and Sun
We will remember what you have done.
Once the dough kneaded, place it in a lightly oiled bowl covered with a clean tea towel for around an hour until it has doubled in size. Once doubled tip onto a clean, floured surface and 'knock it back' kneading it just a few times. Shape the dough how you like. I am quite sculptural with it and just try and go with a shape that resembles a reptile then add extra pumpkin seeds for scales and decoration. You can just bake a normal loaf, or a traditional plait! Have fun with it!