Advent: A new twist on holiday treats

December 10, 2014 | Advent

Excerpted from Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God

‘Tis the season to pack on a few pounds.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, most of us are faced with plates of cookies and homemade candies, special fat-laden side dishes at holiday meals, and office or neighborhood parties where almost everything is on the “naughty” list.

Turn things around by joining in the baking and cooking festivities, but go one step further. Instead of loading up your own counters with cookies and peppermint bark, bake it, make it, and then give it away. It’s the perfect way to bring our love of food and love of others together in one generous swoop. Head down to the home of your elderly neighbor with a tray of goodies, invite a lonely person over to share your famous sweet potato casserole, host a dessert night and invite family and friends to come over and sample what you’ve made with love and gratitude.

Find special recipes that tie into seasonal feasts, rather than feasting all season long. Put oranges in your kids’ shoes on St. Nicholas Day, December 6; bake St. Lucy’s Bread on December 13; hide a small symbol of the baby Jesus in your King Cake on the Feast of the Epiphany. There are so many beautiful food possibilities linked with the many feasts of our faith. Celebrate them!


Since St. Lucy’s feast day is right around the corner and on a Saturday to boot, why not try making St. Lucia Bread with your kids or for a loved one? Here’s a recipe (and photo) courtesy of And don’t feel stressed if you don’t have big candles in holiday colors, or matching ribbon. Use birthday candles, if you don’t have anything else. Make it your own. That’s part of the fun.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


  • 6 ½ to 7 Cups flour
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • ¾ Teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 Packages active dry yeast
  • ¾ Cup milk
  • ½ Cup water
  • ½ Cup butter
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 Egg


  • ¾ Cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon vanilla
  • About 2 teaspoons milk


  • 6 Wax candles
  • 3 Yards ribbon

Grease large cookie sheet.

In large bowl combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast; blend well.
In small saucepan heat ¾ cup milk, water and butter until very warm (120 to 130F degrees)
Add warm mixture and 3 eggs to flour mixture; blend on low speed until moistened.
Beat 3 minutes on medium speed.
Stir in additional 4 ¼ to 4 ½ cups flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
Knead in ¼ to ½ cups flour until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in greased bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and towel.
Let rise in warm place (80 to 85F degrees0 until doubled in size about 1 ½ hours.
Punch down dough several times to remove air bubbles; divide dough in half and shape into balls.
Let rest on counter covered with inverted bowl for 15 minutes.
Shape each half into a 45 inch rope; twist ropes together.
Place in a ring shape on prepared baking sheet; pinch ends together to seal.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Combine 1 tablespoon milk and 1 egg; brush over wreath.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown; cool on rack.

To assemble cut and hollow out 6 holes in wreath for candles to fit into.
Place wreath on serving tray; combine glaze ingredients.
Spread a little glaze on bottom of candles and press candles in holes in wreath.
Drizzle glaze over wreath and decorate.





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