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Lammas Bread: History and Tradition In a Ball O’ Tasty

Technically, this should be loaves.

It really always cracked me up that in Asatru, holiday rituals and whatnot are known as bloat. (That isn’t how it’s spelled, that’s how you say it.)  I also want to issue the following disclaimer: Yes, I know there is a lot of debate and bickering over who stole what holiday and all that. Everyone knows there is that. Spare me and everyone else- and just enjoy the recipe coupled with some interesting and brief historical fact. I know I am not going into all the harvest traditions- it’s not meant to be disrespectful, the two I mention are simply the only ones I actually know anything about. If you want to argue it, go argue it somewhere else or make your own post, somewhere else. I am however, totally open to polite and respectful discussion of those other traditions I did not go into.

I’ve had very little sleep, please bare with, it just occurred to me you might not know what Asatru is- it’s essentially the old ways of the Germanic people, you know, Tyr, Odin, Loki- not the hot Loki from The Avengers…aaaah, Google it. I’m trying to not be long winded here. Anyway. From a language nerd perspective it goes blot- which comes from the word for blessing- which translated, actually means to spatter with blood.

Gross little thing there to go along with your recipe, but I’m trying to get into the history and traditional aspect, here.

Go googling for this recipe, you’re going to find two things: really awful recipes and recipes using the metric system- and if you’re in the States, you may not be down with what is actually, a more intelligent system of measurement. *cough* Again, lack of sleep, I apologize.

So, first, here is a translated recipe for you, then I will go more into the history and why you’d make Lammas bread, apart from it being pretty tasty.

First- you’re going to make what’s known as a sponge.

To do this, you will need:

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup of milk or water- I used the left over butter milk from my churning, yesterday.  Make sure this water or milk is at room temperature.

A packet of yeast, and a little sugar,

Dissolve the yeast in the water or milk, adding the sugar- let it sit for a few minutes until it goes a little bubbly. If it hasn’t after at least 10 minutes, your yeast is crap, start over with new yeast.

Put a little hole in the middle of the flour and salt in a bowl. Pour the milky/watery yeast liquid in there. Mix it around until it’s dough. You may need to add a little more water or milk, again, make sure it’s room temperature, or luke warm.

Once your sponge is ready, take it, and put it in a bowl that’s roughly three times the size of the ball-o-dough and greased up with either olive oil or butter. Cover this and allow it to sit for four hours.

Next, you need soaked grains. I used oats, but whatever grains you like is fine.

1 cup of grains

Enough water to sort of make a grain-paste

Put that into a bowl and let it soak.

If you’re like me, at this point, you go and play some old school Castlevania, nurse your baby, feed your animals.

After the 4 hours is up or the sponge has tripled in size, add:

Your soaked grains

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

Another little pinch of salt

Roughly 1/4 cup lukewarm water or milk, depending on your needs

Now, knead the dough. You want it to be stretchy, so about 15 minutes should do the trick. Grease your pans- you can do one big loaf or two smaller ones. You can also do it up traditionally and depending on the tradition- you might shape your dough into a man-shaped thing and do it on a cookie sheet. Whatever, you grease the pan, preheating your oven to about 325F. I rolled my little dough balls around in oats, you can use whatever grains you like. Then, I popped them into a cupcake pan, and baked.

It does not take long, so keep an eye on it.

Different traditions celebrate the harvest different ways. In Heathenry, it’s known as Freyfest, so going traditional, you’d bake the bread into a figure to represent Freyer and eat it.  This festival has been picked up by bunches of different faiths, so, it’s done a number of ways- but no Heathen name for it has survived. It is done at the beginning of August, because this was historically when the harvest came into the church as a gift- in both German and English tradition, there was a first sheaf ritual. The First Sheaf was bound, blessed and given as an offering to the Gods and spirits of the field, as is the Last Sheaf. The English folk custom was also to decorate wells, springs and other water sources. Modern Heathens see this day as a holy day of Freyr, in fertility god mode. The vikings and warriors would come back from wherever they had gone to find their earlier efforts becoming fruitful, ready for harvest- which also goes into the awesome role of women in that culture, but that’s another entry, entirely.  Loaf fest, or hlaf-mass was also seen as the time when the hard work begins- and preparations for the hard winter months to come began in earnest. The Catholics also adopted this holiday, but its no longer a part of the Liturgical calender- it used to be the Feast of Saint Peter in Chains, and thanks was given for the bread which would ultimately become the Eucharist.

2 thoughts on “Lammas Bread: History and Tradition In a Ball O’ Tasty Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for the recipe! I will give it a try. I'm hoping to be able to flatten the dough and cut out bread horses for our Freyfaxi celebration.


  2. No problem! When I was looking around, though- that's seriously what I noticed. I found myself going, "You're…doing this with white bread? WHAT?" LOL…we ate it without thinking. Fortunately (And unfortunately. ARGH), we have very little Mom and Dad alone time. >_<


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