Friday, March 14, 2014

“Sesame Beer Bread” To Celebrate St Patrick's Day

“May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.”  

This is a blessing for St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated on Monday, March 17th. This is a day that everyone is Irish, a day to be merry and commemorate the love of St. Patrick for his followers, Irish or not.

St. Patrick’s Day customs came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts. There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. One legend among many others is said that St. Patrick used the three leafed Shamrocks to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, it now has become a holiday to celebrate Irish culture by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and enjoying many other things Irish. Shamrocks, Blarney Stones, Pots of Gold, Celtic Fairies, and even dyeing rivers with green food coloring to name a few are all Irish traditions and legends.

This is also a day when stories of Leprechauns and spirits are told. In Irish mythology, a Leprechaun is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the country of Ireland. According to folklore, these “faerie folk” were to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. In most tales and stories Leprechauns are depicted as generally harmless creatures that enjoy solitude and live in remote locations. They are said to have been cobblers or shoemakers. They are supposed to be very rich, having many treasure crocks filled with gold buried in secret locations. Another popular belief is that you may find a Leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Some say that they have mythical power and magical control over the workings of Earth, and even have the power of trickery that confuses their target allowing the Leprechaun to play tricks on his victims. In 1831 Samuel Lover describes the Leprechaun wearing a red coat that was laced with gold, a cocked hat, pointed shoes, a beard like an elf, silver buckles on his shoes, and spectacles stuck on his pointed nose. The modern image of the Leprechaun is depicted by having red hair; with a beard, wearing an emerald green frock coat, and often with a crock of gold.  He has knowledge of the many locations where more treasure is buried.

St Patrick

Did you know that the color associated with St. Patrick was originally blue not green? Green was the color that was most widely associated with Ireland and the Irish people. The change from blue to green began about the 1750s. St. Patrick‘s color now in modern times is green, also due to the phrase, “the wearing of the green“. The shamrock is now the symbol of Ireland. Shamrocks are considered to bring good luck.

“St. Joseph, protect me and my family as you did with the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever strong in the virtue of the Blessed Mother, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen”

As much as I love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, being an Italian American I also celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, which is this Wednesday, March 19th. St. Patrick often it is expressed through the “wearing of the green,” and “wearing of the red,” is what the Italian people do for St. Joseph.  According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time and many people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Their prayers were answered and the rain did come. So the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint.

St. Joseph

The spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus’ step father, St. Joseph has solemnity and rank in the Roman Catholic Church. St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and is the patron Saint of not only carpenters but also, married people, family life, and workers.  In some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is regarded as Father’s Day. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s custom. In Italy a typical St. Joseph’s Day altar would have flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, cookies, specially prepared cakes, breads, and zeppole. (A Neapolitan pastry) Other treats are called frittelle, sfinci, and cream puffs filled with whipped cream or custard.  This is done as a thank you to St. Joseph for surviving a famine that the Italian people went thorough. Foods that are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. The altar usually has three tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. St. Joseph’s Day is also the day when the swallows are traditionally believed to return to Mission San Juan Capistrano after having flown south for the winter. St. Joseph, is the patron saint of the family, and also the patron saint of pastry chefs. In Italy, the Feast of San Giuseppe is a national holiday. Auguri !!!

My recipe this week is “Sesame Beer Bread.” A hearty bread coated in sesame seeds, with a subtle beer flavor. This bread is good along side a soup. Because it contains no fat, so it should be eaten the same day. It can also be served warm with some butter or room temperature with a cup of tea or a mug of cold beer. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and the Feast of St. Joseph. Hope that you find the luck of the Irish and the peace of St. Joseph!

“Sesame Beer Bread”

3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tbsp of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
12 1/2 oz of light beer
1 1/4 teaspoons of milk
2 tbsp. of sesame seeds

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add beer to well. Stir until soft, sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently shape to fit greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Place dough in pan. Press into corners if necessary. Brush top of loaf with milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in 375°F oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Cut into 16 slices. Should be eaten within a day, I am sure that will not be a problem.  


Till Next Time……………….

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  1. Hi Dottie!
    I enjoyed reading about St. Patrick and St. Joseph. I must say I only got to know more about St. Patrick through my Irish friend as it is not so well known in Italy. But I know more and St. Joseph and the lovely cakes you make for that day!
    I really like the sesame beer bread you have made. I am bookmarking this, looks so nice and soft. Have a lovely weekend XX

    1. Hi Alida, Thank you for reading this blog post! These Saints are two of my favorites. I would think you wouldn't really celebrate St. Patrick in Italy, but I knew you would know all about St. Joseph. Here in the states they really celebrate St Patrick with a force. St. Joseph is usually only celebrated by Italians, especially Sicilians.This recipe is so easy and so delicious. Goes great with any thing you serve and a perfect bread for St. Patricks Day with the beer in it. Glad that you bookmarked it, I hope you enjoy it. Men love it, because it has beer in it! Thanks again, Enjoy and Blessings for a great weekend. Dottie :)

  2. I love this post Dottie! :) Being Italian and a Joseph myself ;) St. Joseph's Day is one of my favorite days...and my family always remember to bring me Zeppole! :) Have a great weekend! Joe

  3. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for stopping by and I am glad that you enjoyed this post! Happy St Jospeh's Day to you! My brother's middle name is Joesph, and my family always recognizes the day for him as well. It is a favorite day to me as I love to bake all the goodies. Zeppoles are one of my families favorites. I usually make a big batch of them, with sugar or honey. I hope that you have a fabulous day and a great weekend too!
    Dottie :)

  4. Hi Dottie ,
    This post is beautiful , so full of information , there are so many different cultures and it's fun learning about them the Irish is so much fun and if you notice all cultures celebrations are intertwined to make them there own . I have also notice how all cultures connect to each other .
    I do a lot of baking so I will have to try the beer bread . We love homemade bread . Have a great and blessed weekend and thanks so much for sharing :)

    1. Dear Nee, Thanks for stopping by and your words about this post. I am glad that you enjoyed reading this information. I know, so many things I had never knew about. I also love to learn about different cultures and traditions. I agree with you Nee, they all seem to intertwine with each other. But that is a good thing, as it shows we are all a like in some way or the other. I do love the aroma of breads baking. It makes the house feel warm and cozy. Hope that you try this one, it is so yummy. Thanks again, enjoy your weekend and blessings to you and your family. Dottie :).

  5. Lindo post su pan se ve absolutamente delicioso,abrazos

    1. Gracias, por venir by.Yes, el pan es realmente deliciosa, tienes que probarlo. Disfrute de su fin de semana. Abrazos Dottie :)

  6. I call March the month of Saints, Dottie. St. David, St. Patrick and yes my personal favorite, St. Joseph!

    You have done a wonderful job reintroducing us to St. Patrick and St. Joseph. I sure hope to be getting my hands on some sfingi di San Giuseppe on Wednesday. Marion's birthday is Thursday she would love them too, lol...Your bread looks heavenly. If I had some beer in the house I would bake it right now! Thanks for sharing, Dottie...

    1. Hi Louise,
      I agree, this month is a very holy month. I have to say that St. Joseph is my favorite as well. Maybe because I am Italian. I am posting a recipe on Wordless Tuesday for Zeppole. I love them, especially warm and full of sugar or honey. How lovely that Marion's birthday is all around the saints and all of the fun foods. Please tell her that I sent my birthday greetings to her! The bread is really good, very soft and just a hint of beer, that adds to the flavor. I love sesame seeds on anything, they really go very nicely with this type of bread. Thank you for stopping by. Hope that you and Marion have a wonderful St. Patricks day and a blessed St. Joseph Day...
      Dottie :)

  7. Dear Dottie, You are so dear to post such a beautiful post of these saints. My mom loved the Feast of San Giuseppe. It was such fun.
    Have a beautiful day. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

    1. Dear Catherine, Thank you for your lovely words and stopping by. I love the saints, and I especially enjoy when they intertwine with our traditions and foods. St. Pat's Day is a fun day, and it has become very commercialized. San Giuseppe, is a great day especially with all of the delicious pastry. But anyway you put it, both days are fun filled with food, traditions, and many blessings. Have a great night, enjoy...Dottie :)