Slow Days: Lammas Bread

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

One of the most popular topics on which I have blogged is that of Lammas. Maybe it is a love of all things Celtic. Maybe it is a yearning for simpler times. Maybe it is a renewal of interest in growing and producing one’s own food. The festival was called Lughnasagh in Ireland; Lunastain, in Scotland; and became Lammas [Loaf Mass] after the missionaries Christianized it. As a harvest festival, it was observed on the mid-Summer cross-quarter day around August 2 — usually August 1, 2,3. At that time the cereal crops* [wheat, rye, barley, oats] were being harvested. Flour was quickly ground from the grain, baked into loaves to be savored by the entire farm family while giving thanks for a successful harvest and offering prayers for future crops. Bread, therefore, is the recipe of the day. *Note: in the UK, cereal crops are all called ‘corn.’ This is confusing to Americans, to whom ‘corn’ is Zea mays for eating on the cob or for popping. When you follow the links, keep that in mind.

Here is a non-yeasted recipe, making something like a biscuit. This is probably the “real” bread for Lammas, since it is prepared quickly. Buttermilk Bread Charm for Lammas

3 mugs strong white flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp bicarbonate of sodaPlace the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Sieve in the blended salt and soda
500 ml of Buttermilk Pour in the buttermilk. Mix well with a wooden spoon or your hand until the dough feels springy.
Sprouted seeds – these represent regenerationMix in the sprouted seeds. If it feels too sloppy, just add a little more flour.
Turn it onto a board and cover with a fine dusting of flour. Pat it with your hands until you have a round shape. Take a sharp knife and score lightly into eight sections, one for each festival. Take time to focus on the bread you have created. Turn the loaf three times saying “From the fields and through the stones, into fire, Lammas Bread, as the Wheel turns may all be fed. Goddess Bless.”
Place on a greased baking tray and pop it into a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it. When the bread is ready, it will change colour and will sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
Cool completely on a wire rack. When it is cool, tie it with Lammas ribbon in your choice of colour – gold, orange, yellow

Sour Dough Fruited Summer Bread: The one I’ll make this year is based on a sourdough, in keeping with all of those who are attempting that during the current lock-down. This bread is easy to make. [Original recipe from Paul Hollywood] With the addition of Summer fruits and whole wheat, it seems fit for a festival.

All the ingredients, ready to mix.
64 g bread flour 64 g white whole wheat flour 125 g active sourdough starter 3.8 g salt 65-88 ml H20 + 2 tsp honeyCombine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the honey to the water. Pour it in a little bit at a time and mix with your hands to make a soft dough. You may not need all the water. If you have extra water, add it to the next step.
½ cup chopped dried apricots ½ cup dried cherriesPut the fruits in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes, then drain, reserving the water. Add to the dough.
Coat work surface w/ olive oil + knead the fruit into the dough on the oiled surface for 10-15 mins or until the dough is smooth + elastic and the fruit is well-incorporated.
Put in lightly-oiled bowl + cover w/ film. Rise in warm place 5 hr or overnight in a cool place
Knead dough until smooth, knocking the air out. Shape into an oval. Let rise on a well-floured towel [a couche], up-side down, in a loaf pan for 4-8 hrs or overnight in a cool place.
Bread is rising on a floured towel in a small loaf pan to help it to keep its shape.
Reserved soaking water 2 tsp honeyPut in a small pan and simmer while adding the honey. Cook down until it is syrup-y, not runny.
Put a tray of water on the bottom of the oven. Preheat to 425F Gently tip the risen dough onto parchment paper on a baking tray. With a lame or sharp knife, score the top of the bread: down the center, then 3 on each side at an angle – sort of like a fern or the veins on a leaf. When you open the oven, add more water to the tray at the bottom of the oven to produce steam. Bake 30 mins at 425. Brush loaf with fruit syrup, then reduce oven to 400 F and bake 15 mins more.
The very dark syrup made the crust a rich mahogany color. Serve with comb honey.

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