Archive for the ‘Holiday Bread History’ Category


Excited to have a little mention of Piety Hill Bakery in the Chicago Tribune last week!

We are baking  Kulich bread up until May Day.  For many Slavic peoples around the world,  the  Easter season wouldn’t be Easter without this festive bread.

My Russian mother made Kulich at Easter-time  for my brother and I  as we were growing up in South America!  Perhaps you can make it a tradition for your children as well.  I bet they would really enjoy the extravagant shape, color and the sweet flavor!

Our Kulich is made with 6 eggs, milk, butter, sugar, flour, orange &  lemon zest, vanilla, raisins, nuts, and a tad of rum in the frosting.

Each ingredient is rich with symbolic meaning.



All Hallow’s Eve looms so large!  We feel it in the air, right?    October is one of my favorite months of the year, and I bet it might be one of yours too. I hear people talking about it all around me.  We sense its profound significance.

In honor of this magical month of change, decline and romance,  Piety Hill Bakery now has available from October 6th – November 6th traditional “Day of the Dead” bread.  Check out our Holiday Bread History for information about the meaning of this specialty bread.

It is sweet, delicious, and uniquely shaped;  full of  rich butter, eggs,  touches of orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon and anise. Feed it to your children, your family or friends, in honor of all that is beautiful that is passing away, and will return again.

Your DAY OF THE DEAD  bread will arrive with 3 Bone shaped loaves and one Skull shaped bun.


COMING SOON:  HOLIDAY BREADS  will be Available in  the Summer of 2011! We’re excited.

I have long been fascinated by the festivals of various world traditions.  Bread  in many cultures functions in both a practical and symbolic way.

Here is a bit of colorful bread history so that your experience of sharing our bread will be as full and rich as the stories of these traditional breads themselves.

Challah will be available for delivery from Hannukah to Dec. 23.

Forms of Challah or Hallah are made all over Europe, although in the US it is best known as a classic Jewish bread.  It is eaten  on Shabbat and Jewish holy days, excepting on Passover at which time only unleavened bread is to be eaten.   This lovely, slightly sweet bread is made with lots of eggs and sweetened with honey.  To form it 3 strips of dough are sliced and braided, and then it is sprinkled with poppyseeds (which are representative of the mana which fell from heaven in the Old Testament.)

“Man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G-d’s mouth does man live.” Devarim 8:3,  is just one of the lovely phrases used in the Old Scriptures that speaks of bread.

One of the interesting rituals with Challah is that as one works the dough, a piece of it is to be pulled off and thrown into the oven.  This represents the small piece of dough that would have been baked seperately to give the priest back in the times of the Temple. Now that the Temple is gone, the piece is to be burned and a prayer said.

When we bake our Challah bread for you we will be following this tradition. “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”


Mexican Bread of the Dead

We will be delivering Mexican Bread of the Dead from October 6th- November 6th in honor of All Hallow’s Eve,  All Souls Day,  and All Saints Day.

In Mexico,  the Day of the Dead is a time to honor past loved ones, and celebrate their lives through the visiting and decorating of graves & cemeteries.  An altar table placed before the tomb of a loved one, or at a church or in a public area  may hold candles, photos of the deceased, flowers,  drinks and foods including a Pan de Los Muertos.  This sweet bread may be round with a cross on it, bone shaped or in the  shape of a skull.  Creative alternatives are always valued.

This practice has ancient roots going back to indigenous times.  The Aztecs themselves honored the dead on a day some time early in August. This important event was celebrated for a whole month.  In time the Catholic feast of All Saints Day (Nov. 1) merged with the pagan ancestral rituals and became an important family and spiritual event which was meant to be joyous and honoring, albeit always remaining a bit macabre.

Our Bread of the Dead will come to you decorated in a variety of ghoulish forms.  Enjoy!

History of the Russian Kulich

Russian Kulich Bread will be available for delivery the Tueday after Palm Sunday, through Easter, and up to May first.

Many Christian cultures have created special breads to celebrate Holy Week or Easter.  The Russian Kulich bread  is a tall sweet bread baked in a high pan whose shape goes back in time to Slav antiquity.  It is stuffed with candied fruits and peel, almonds and saffron and decorated typically with two Cyrillic letters: XB.  These stand for “Christ is Risen.” It was sometimes taken to be blessed at midnight mass on the eve of Easter Sunday in the Orthodox Church. Often it was used as the main bread throughout the Holy Week.

Although Easter celebrates the rising of the Crucified Christ, is has its remotest beginnings in the pagan rites of early peoples.  Bread has long been a fertility symbol, and this bread is appropriately frosted in the pinks and greens we associate with Easter baskets, flowers, and the coming of spring.  The phallic form undoubtedly harkens back to ancient symbolic rituals. It celebrates the growth of new crops,  perpetuation of a strong family line, and especially, hope for a life eternal.

Cristos Voskries! +

History of the Three Kings Bread

Three Kings Bread will be available for delivery from Jan. 6 – Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)

Three Kings Bread is baked in at least Belgium, France, England and Mexico during the season of Epiphany, which falls on January 6th.  January 7th is  Orthodox Christmas day, and as a child raised in a Russian family we always enjoyed the fact that we could keep our tree up longer than everyone else.  At least until January 7th.

The celebration of Epiphany, Feast of the Three Kings, or Twelth Night, whichever you choose to call it gave rise to a sweet  bread or  “cake”  which was  formed into a wreath to signify a Kings crown. This tradition dates back to the 12th or 13th century when the monks of St. Michel would choose their Epiphany king by means of this cake.  It was typically daubed with almond paste and cut into pieces for everyone present,  plus always one extra. Hidden inside this tasty crown of bread was a bean, and whom ever was the lucky recipient became the “King” for the day and could command all others to his duties.  In Mexico, the bean is today replaced with a small figure of a Christ Child, or sometimes a coin.  The extra piece was given away to the first needy visitor who knocked at the door.

The enjoyment of this bread  extends forward in time to the Feast of Mardi Gras.  Now going by the name “Kings Cake” this baked ring of goodness is decorated in the colors of the festival:  purple for justice, green for faith, and gold representing power.  Thousands of these cakes are sold in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras, and each baker will have his unique recipe and design.

On January 6th (Epiphany),  as well as on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), we will be hiding a surprise inside of each batch of  our Three Kings Bread. Watch for it!!  Email or Call us. The lucky recipient will be the winner of a free loaf of bread of their choice.