Today is the winter solstice here in the northern hemisphere, also known as midwinter or the shortest day. Here in Maryland, we’ll have roughly 9.5 hours of daylight, though other parts of the world such as certain areas of Finland, will experience just over two hours of light. The solstice is caused, of course, by the earth’s axial tilt reaching it’s maximum away from the sun, but there are many interesting rituals and festivals around the world that correspond with this astronomical phenomena: Yalda is observed in Iran, Yule is celebrated by pagans around the world, and Dongzhi in China to name a few.
We decided to make sun bread to celebrate, keeping in mind our eagerness for longer days to return and all that comes with it (gardening!). It is important that in a world full of chronic busyness and disconnect, we take a few moments to breathe and observe the natural world around us and it’s cycles. Today, that took the form of fresh bread and candles with dinner.
During this shortest day, remember that the light always returns even after the darkest night.
- 1 package yeast
- 0.5 cup warm water (around 100-110 degrees)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons of oil (I used veggie)
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- Zest from one large orange
Combine the sugar, yeast, and warm water in a large bowl and set aside until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, two of the eggs, two egg yolks, and oil. Knead for five minutes. The dough should be smooth and not as sticky. Oil another bowl, put the dough in, cover with a warm, damp towel and place it in a warm spot to rise for an hour. Knead the dough again, repeating the rising process for another hour.
Set the oven to 375 while you spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. We shaped our dough into a sun shape, and you can choose whatever shape you’d like (or loaves too). Add the last egg to a small dish, with a tiny splash of water, and whisk. Brush the egg mixture over the dough, then sprinkle with the orange zest. Allow the bread to rise one more time for 30 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes.