St. Lucy, an early Christian martyr, was blinded (and then killed) when she refused to renounce her faith. As a result she is the patron saint of the blind. She's especially venerated in Sweden, where on her December feast day young girls distribute sweet buns in Lucy's honor. In making the buns, raisins can be added, symbolizing the saint's eyes. A little graphic, maybe, but that's often the way with martyred saints.
A.L.E. has always had a soft spot for St. Lucy so I was excited to bake these buns for her, even though we were not in the correct season. Reinhart's whole wheat buns are not particularly sweet in taste, but they are lovely in appearance, which made them perfect for sharing with special daughters on their visit home. I packed up the leftovers for A.L.E. to bring back to her apartment.
Shameless imitation of photo in Reinhart's book This bun has the raisin "eyes" of St. Lucy
- The recipe, as I made it, is at the end of this post.
- For both the biga and the soaker, I used a little over half white whole wheat flour and the rest was regular whole wheat.
- For liquid, I used yogurt - the soaker was very crumbly and dry. At the time I didn't know what to add. I ended up misting it with water before I left it to rest on the counter. (Since I baked these I've been a good girl and have been reading the intro chapters of the book and I now know that I could have added some milk to get it to the proper consistency. Luckily it really didn't matter in the end.)
- After its 5 minutes of rest the biga dough was so wonderful to handle that I was sorry I only got to knead it for a minute. It was quite smooth and elastic.
- In making the final dough I used around half regular whole wheat and half white whole wheat. I kneaded by hand, adding some water to get to the proper consistency.
- The dough rose very nicely in the bulk rise, then I formed it into balls:
-After the balls rested for 10 minutes, I formed them into long snakes, then coiled them. Reinhart gives two ways to shape the coils (I'll call them "S" shape or "C" shape), so I did half one way and half the other way:
- After the buns proofed, I painted them carefully with an egg white wash (I didn't want them to deflate), then baked them on the same parchment on a baking sheet on top of baking stone.
- The buns were in the oven for 25 minutes and they were already over 200 degrees.
These rolls were a big hit. Says A.L.E.: "They're fantastic and sustained me for a week. Great taste and look."
Besides the fact that I was inordinately proud of how pretty the rolls looked, they were absolutely delicious. We enjoyed them warmed or at room temperature, with butter and without. Sometimes whole wheat bread can have that assertive "not the best texture but it's good for you" quality. These rolls are very different; it's hard to believe they are entirely whole wheat - there's such a nice chewy elasticity in the texture. I'm sold on Reinhart's methods of maximizing the goodness of the grain through pre-ferments.
I'm submitting these rolls to Yeastspotting. Stop by and check out all of the yeasty goodness!
Santa Lucia Buns, as adapted
227 g whole wheat flour (I used 127g KA white whole wheat and 100g KA whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c plain yogurt
Mix all soaker ingredients together in bowl, until they form a ball. Add a bit of milk if necessary. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temp for 12-24 hours.
227 g whole wheat flour (I used 127 g KA white whole wheat and 100 g KA whole wheat)
1/4 tsp instant yeast
142 g filtered or spring water at room temp
1 lg egg, slightly beaten (47 g without shell)
Mix biga ingredients together in bowl to form ball of dough. Knead in bowl for 2 minutes with wet hands; the dough will feel very tacky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes then knead again with wet hands for 1 minute; dough will be smoother but still tacky.
Transfer dough to clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hrs-3 days.
Remove biga from fridge about 2 hours before making final dough.
All soaker (401 g)
All biga (417 g)
113 g whole wheat flour (I used half KA white whole wheat and half KA whole wheat
5 g salt
7 g instant yeast
71 g honey
56 g light flavor olive oil
1 egg white w/1 T water and 1/4 tsp honey for egg wash
Cut soaker and biga into 12 pieces each with metal pastry scraper. Sprinkle with flour to keep pieces from sticking
Put all pieces in bowl with the 113 g flour, salt, yeast, honey, and oil. Knead with wet hands 2 minutes; until all ingredients are incorporated. Dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Add water or flour as necessary (I had to add some water).
Turn dough onto floured counter and roll in flour to coat. Knead dough by hand for 3-4 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to make soft and tacky but not sticky consistency. Form into ball and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Continue kneading for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten. Dough should be soft and supple and pass the windowpane test. Form into ball and place in bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, until it is 1 1/2 times its original size.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Round each piece into a tight ball then cover and let rise for 10 minutes. Roll out each ball into an even strand about 10" long. Spiral each strand from both ends toward the center, forming 2 snail shells that meet in the middle. You can flip one end so it is an "S" shape. (I flipped half). Place the shaped pieces of dough onto the parchment, leaving 1 1/2" between them. Mist the tops with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for an hour, until rolls have grown to 1 1/2 times original size.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush the tops of each bun with egg white wash. Place raisin in center if desired and place pan in the oven. Immediately lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees and continue baking for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, until browned and at least 195 degrees in the center. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.