12 Days of Joy–Russian Welcome Bread and a Friend

Today, a good friend came over. I meant to take a picture of her and write something nice, but I got caught up in conversation, philosophizing, catching up, and more.

We made bread together. It turned out pretty amazing.

Is there anything better than a loaf of good bread?
Is there anything better than a loaf of good bread?

My friend, Angela, has been living in St. Petersburg, Russia for about two years now, and she’ll be moving to China (I always forget the name of the city…it’s big, though) in about a month. Her husband is in the foreign services. She came over on Friday, and we made some bread together.

Before I talk about the bread (don’t worry, I’ll post the recipe), I want to say a few things about my friend.

I met Angela in Arkie-land. She was in my ward there. We became friends the usual way, talking, a few casual get-togethers, we even woke up a few *very early* mornings and ran. I was grateful for her friendship while I was in Arkie-land. I knew that when we got together, I’d learn something, dozens of things. Talking to her is elevating.

So…obviously now I don’t live in Arkie-land, and she doesn’t live there either. She has family out here in AZ, and now she’s doing the world-travelling state department thing. Once a year, she and her family come out here to visit family, take vacation, and do things that we really take for granted (go to the doctor, dentist, etc.) I feel really honored that during her visit, she takes a day out to visit with me and my family.

I’m not a really exciting person. One of my favorite things to do is sit around and talk. I don’t really like talking so much about people, but I love talking about ideas and experiences. This is what I love about Angela! Whenever I’ve gotten together with her, we don’t waste time talking about people, we talk about society, ideas, gospel topics, good food, and our kids. Whenever I’m with her, I feel like a better, smarter, happier, more hopeful person. We need more Angela’s in this world. She has such a positive persona, and I’m grateful that I have been able to hang out with her!!!

Anyway…as we chatted, we made some bread. It is amazing. I’ll provide the recipe, but only if you promise to call a good friend, have her over, make it together, and solve the world’s problems in your kitchen. (I’m pretty sure that this bread is up to the challenge).

Russian Welcome Bread

2 cups warm milk (I put mine in the microwave for about 2 minutes)
5 tablespoons butter, in pieces
2 eggs, divided
5 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
6-ish cups flour

  1. Mis warm milk, butter, 1 egg, sugar, yeast, and 1 1/3 cup flour.
  2. Add 1 1/3 more cups flour and salt. Mix for a minute.
  3. Add 2/3 cup more flour and mix for 5 minutes.
  4. Add 2-3 cups more flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix – until the dough forms a ball/shaggy mass.
  5. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  6. Form dough into a ball and spread butter over the surface of the dough. Place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled.
  7. Divide dough–approximately in half. One half should be a little bigger. Form the larger portion into a mound, and place it on a baking sheet that is either: lined with a Silpat, Parchment, or greased.
  8. Divide remaning dough in half. With one half, divide in two pieces. Roll into “worms” long enough to wrap around the base of the mound. Twist them to form a rope. Put the rope around the base of the mound of dough.
  9. Divide the remaining dough in half. With one half of the dough, divide into two pieces and make two more worms. This time, you’ll make a rope-ring for the top of the bread. Place on the top of the mound.
  10. With the remaining dough, shape/cut flowers, leaves, and pine cones. Place in a decorative manner on the bread. Use the remaining egg to create a wash that will help “glue” the pieces on.
  11. When you are finished decorating, brush the egg wash over the entire loaf–carefully!
  12. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, place a sheet of foil over the mound (to prevent too much browning). Bake for another 10-15 minutes more, until the bread is fully cooked. (Tap to see if it sounds hollow, then it is done.)
  13. Let cool for a second or two (If you can). Place a small ramekin full of sea or kosher salt in the hole formed by the ring on the top of the bread. Break bread, dip in salt, eat, and solve all of the world’s problems with your family and friends.

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