Happy Winter Solstice from The Post Supply

 

 

Amidst the steady stream of FM Christmas carols, to-do lists, gift wrapping, cookie-fuelled meltdowns, air travel gone awry, and all the other glorious, maddening and exhausting details that comprise the modern holiday season, we often find ourselves searching for meaning, for connection, for groundedness. 

We believe that celebrating the winter solstice with as much vigor and reverence as we do the holidays can suffuse this time of year with the meaning we’re all yearning for.  Ancient yuletide celebrations were born as an antidote to the dark and cold, which were more threatening then than they are now.  Modern science has assured us that the sun will return after the darkest day (in fact, we’re just orbiting around it!) but our ancestors used symbols, offerings and rituals to coax the light back into the sky, lengthening ever so slightly for half the year, until the earth warmed up and the growing season could begin in earnest.

One of our favorite ways to celebrate the solstice (in addition to building a roaring fire, inside or out, and warming some spiked apple spiced cider) is to bake an offering for the sun.  Elisa Kleven’s children’s book Sun Bread tells the story of a baker who bakes a big, golden bread shaped like the sun, to lure the sun out of hiding.  The book includes a recipe for Sun Bread, which we’ve made and loved in the past. 

This year, we’re continuing the tradition but decided to make little turmeric cardamom buns, golden and slightly sweet– a treat for us and our families, and an offering to the sun.  We like to sacrifice a bun to the bonfire, and gently toast the others on sticks for added warmth.  Whether you’re inspired to bake these buns or not, take a moment to light a candle on the winter solstice – surrender to the darkness, and then gently release it, welcoming brighter days ahead. 

Recipe for Turmeric Cardamom buns follows, as does a favorite solstice poem by Susan Cooper.

 

Turmeric Cardamon Buns

Makes 12 buns

1 cup milk

½ cup (80 g) sugar, plus more for egg wash

1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

4 cups (575 g) all purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt, plus more for egg wash

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

2 eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash

6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

Heat the milk until barely simmering, then remove from the heat and let cool to body temperature.  Meanwhile, measure the remaining ingredients: place the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large sturdy mixing bowl.  Put the flour, salt, turmeric and cardamom in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add orange blossom water, if using.  Cut the butter into several small pieces.  When milk is body temperature, add to the bowl with yeast and sugar and whisk briefly to combine.  Let sit for 5 minutes, then add the flour mixture and eggs.  

If you’re using a stand mixer, mix on low until ingredients are fully combined and a craggy dough has formed.  Increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes, or until dough starts to become smooth.  Lower speed and gradually add butter, one piece at a time, until butter is fully incorporated.  Mix for a few more minutes, or until the dough is very smooth.  

If you’re mixing the dough by hand, combine the milk, sugar and yeast with the flour and egg mixtures and use a wooden spoon to stir until a craggy dough forms.  Then, dump dough onto a clean surface and knead, using flour very sparingly as needed, until a smooth dough starts to form.  Add softened butter one piece at a time, kneading vigorously, until butter is completely incorporated.  Continue to knead for 10 more minutes or until a smooth dough forms.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise for approximately two hours, or until doubled in size.  Place the dough on a clean work surface, and cut it into 24 pieces.  Roll the pieces into ropes about 10 inches in length, and then take 2 ropes and coil them together.  Roll the coil into a spiral, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough until you have 12 buns.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, or until buns have risen and feel puffy and tender.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350, using a convection setting if you have it.  When the buns are ready, mix your remaining egg with a tablespoon of water and a pinch each of sugar and salt.  Brush the egg wash all over the buns, then place the trays in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate trays.  Bake for 6-8 more minutes, or until buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Let cool slightly, then enjoy.  Will keep tightly wrapped for one day, and greatly benefit from a re-toasting.

Recipe and words by Laura Motley

The Shortest Day

By Susan Cooper

 

So the Shortest Day came and the year died  

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow‐white world  

Came people singing, dancing,  

To drive the dark away.

  

They lighted candles in the winter trees;  

They hung their homes with evergreen;  

They burned beseeching fires all night long  

To keep the year alive.  

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake  

They shouted, reveling.  

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them  

Echoing behind us ‐ listen! 

 

All the long echoes, sing the same delight,  

This Shortest Day,  

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:  

They carol, feast, give thanks,  

And dearly love their friends,  

And hope for peace.  

And so do we, here, now,  

This year and every year.  

Welcome Yule! 

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