Saint Joseph's Bread

See the RecipeLandon Nordeman

At Minardi Baking Company, Saint Joseph's bread is made in 100-pound batches. The dough is repeatedly pushed through a series of rollers, which compress it, so that it's dense enough to retain the bread's intricately wrought designs through the rising and baking process. We've streamlined the recipe, creating a rendition of the Saint Joseph's staff that's easy to prepare at home.

Saint Joseph's Bread
Here is our rendition of the intricately decorated loaves of bread eaten during the feast of St. Joseph.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more as needed
  • 12 cup milk
  • 12 cup water, heated to 105°–110°
  • 13 cup sugar
  • 1 (1⁄4-oz.) packet active dry yeast
  • 5 12 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Heat butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted; let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Whisk together the water and a pinch of the sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the sugar–water mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1⁄2 cups of the flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Add the cooled milk mixture, yeast mixture, and 2 of the eggs and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1⁄2 cup at a time, and continue whisking until a dough begins to form, then switch to a rubber spatula and continue mixing. Once all the flour is added, knead the dough in the bowl to form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Grease a large bowl with butter and add the dough. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.
  3. To form dough into the shape known as Saint Joseph's staff, see the Step-By-Step Instructions.
  4. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven; heat to 375°. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush the risen dough all over with the egg. Using a razor blade or a thin, sharp knife, make a deep slash down center of staff, about 1" deep; pull the slash apart slightly with your hands. Transfer staff to oven. Using a spray bottle, mist the inside of oven about 10 times; bake bread until deep golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Let bread cool on a rack before serving.