St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated on March 19th, mostly by Italian-American Catholics. The holiday honors St. Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather. Traditional foods served are part of what is called a St. Joseph’s Table which is blessed by a priest. St. Joseph’s Tables are set up both in homes and churches and consist of breads, desserts, and meatless main dishes (because the holiday is celebrated during Lent). Italian fish dishes are widely served, as well as Zeppole, which is the most time-honored and popular dessert.
The following St. Joseph’s Day Bread is very traditional, but the original recipe has been adapted to the automatic bread machine to free up the cook and save hands-on time. The simple ingredients can be assembled in about 5 minutes; after the machine has finished the dough cycle, the loaf can be shaped into a large braid in about 10 minutes. The braid is then brushed with beaten egg and liberally sprinkled with sesame seeds (to represent sawdust since Joseph was a carpenter).
This St. Joseph’s Bread isn’t sweet, so it goes with any of the main dishes served at the St. Joseph’s Table. Leftovers are delicious toasted or made into French Toast.
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Measure the dough ingredients in the order given into the pan of the automatic bread machine.
- Set the machine to the dough cycle and start.
- After 5 minutes, check to see that the dough forms a soft ball. If it is too stiff, add a little more water and restart the cycle; if it is too soft, add a little more flour.
- When the dough cycle is finished, remove it from the bread machine to a lightly floured surface.
- Divide into three pieces and form each into a long rope.
- Place the ropes on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet, two forming an X and one down the middle of the X.
- Braid each end, starting from the middle.
- Tuck the ends under, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk.
- Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 134 Calories from Fat 38
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 29% Protein 10% Carb. 61%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 13 mg
Sodium 296 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 1 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 0% Iron 3%