Shaping Saint Joseph’s Bread

Here is a step-by-step guide to making the Saint Joseph's staff described in the recipe for Saint Joseph's Bread.

1.Prepare the dough and let it rise as directed in steps 1 and 2. Punch the risen dough down and turn it out onto a work surface, patting it with your hands into a flat rectangle, deflating it completely. With a rolling pin, continue to flatten the rectangle until it is roughly 12" x 16". Using your hands, press the dough into an even thickness.

2. Place the dough so that the longer side is parallel to your body. With your hands, roll the dough into a tight tube, making sure it's an even thickness from end to end. Pinch the tube along its crease to seal it. Gently roll the tube back and forth to smooth it. Leave it crease side down on the work surface.

3. Using a plastic comb, mark the entire length of the tube with Xes, each about 1⁄4" deep.

4. Using a razor blade or a thin, sharp knife, cut two 1⁄2"-deep, parallel slashes, about 3" apart, along the entire length of the tube. Cut a 1⁄2"-deep diagonal slash every 2" across the top of the tube, intersecting with the long, lengthwise cuts.

5. Make two 6"-long cuts lengthwise at the right end of the tube, cutting completely through the dough, to create 3 strips of equal width.

6. Bend the outer strips back and away from the center strip and curl them into the sides of the tube. Bend the center strip into a circle, attaching it to the top of the tube. Press the ends of the strips against the tube to adhere them.

7. Cut 1"-long diagonal slashes into both sides of the tube at 3" intervals, gently prying them slightly open with the knife. Carefully transfer the staff to a greased baking sheet, cover loosely with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour. Proceed with the glazing and baking instructions in step 4 of the recipe.

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