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Friday Bread Basket 3/10/23
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. I’m currently working on a version of my English muffin bread recipe using yogurt whey instead of sourdough discard (pictured above), because I have more of the former than I do the latter and I need a way (whey) to use it up. And also because I’m going to be sharing excerpts from Homa Dashiki’s new book Yogurt & Whey here soon and wanted to have this recipe ready for it. (It needs another test or two.)
💯and still baking strong
Some of you might remember Shirley Haney Reid, a Wordloaf reader from the early days here. I just learned that she recently turned 100 years old, a milestone which she celebrated by baking a loaf of bread, something that she does almost every week at least once. I hope to interview Shirley for the newsletter soon, but in the meantime I think we should all wish her a happy 100th birthday!
Thanks to Irina Georgescu’s tweet, I learned that yesterday was Mucenici Day, a bready holiday in Romania and Moldova:
On the day of the martyrs (mucenici), in the popular belief, the tombs and the gates of Heaven are opened, and the housewives make, in honor of the Holy Martyrs, 40 coils called sfinti, mucenici or bradosi.
In Moldova, they have the shape of the number 8, a stylization of the human form, and are baked from Cozonac dough, then glazed with honey and splinkled with walnuts.
Mucenici with cracked walnut and honey
In Dobrogea, the same anthropomorphic form is preserved, but the martyrs are smaller and are boiled in water with sugar, cinnamon and walnuts, symbolizing the lake where the Holy Martyrs were thrown.
In Muntenia, in addition to the usual brados, there is a "Uitata pentru morti" (The forgotten dead) celebration, a larger martyr bread (considered to be blind), which children dance around the fire with in celebration of the dead who were forgotten during the year.
The customs of March 9 form a ritual scenario specific to the coming of a New Year: the preparation of ritual food (Saints, Saints, Bradoşi), spring cleaning, the ritual drunkenness attested by popular tradition, the opening of the tombs and gates of Heaven for the return of spirits among the living, lighting fires in courtyards and gardens, in front of the houses and in the field, the purification of people and cattle by sprinkling holy water, beating the earth with the mayors to drive away the cold and take out the heat, finding luck in the new year by preparing the Macinici cake, harvesting honey and cutting the first vines.
Irina’s video—which I first thought was some kind of savory soup—depicts the Dobrogea version, where the mucenici are boiled like dumplings.
Speaking of holiday food traditions, I loved this Twitter thread from Sejal Sukhadwala on the colo(u)rs in Indian food. You should definitely read the whole thing, but the most astonishing bit is this:
All this talk of holidays and food traditions got me to start compiling a list of all the holidays/days/seasons that have breads linked to them. You should share your favorite bready holidays in the comments below so I can add them to the list, which I’ll share here eventually.
Have a peaceful weekend, everyone, see you next week.