Bread and Salt
“…[Once] a maiden girl could walk the kingsroad in her name-day gown and still go unmolested, and travelers could find fire, bread, and salt at many an inn and holdfast.”
Bread and Salt are a staple of Westerosi culture and courtesy. They are the physical manifestation of the guest-right tradition, whereby anyone who receives such in a castle, inn, or home cannot be harmed while under that roof.
My version is loosely based on a traditional Russian bread. The salt is poured directly into the hollow of the bread, and each guest may tear off a piece of bread and dip it into the salt. The bread is like Easter bread (bring it to family gatherings!) in flavor and texture, but the taste with the salt is reminiscent of soft pretzels.
The inspiration credit for this goes to reader and commenter Random.
NB: Any spoilers related to this post will be deleted.
Bread and Salt Recipe
makes 2 large loaves
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 eggs, 2 left whole for baking into the dough
- 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add the milk. Remove from heat before it becomes hotter than warm; if too hot, it will kill the yeast.
Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture while stirring. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup more flour and beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Lightly grease a large bowl, put the dough in, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each of the pieces into long rolls about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the three long pieces of dough, form a loose braid. Divide this braid in half, then form each half into a round, sealing the ends together and tucking them under.
Cover your two whole eggs with butter or oil, then slip them carefully into the middle of each loaf. They should be tucked in about halfway. These whole raw eggs bake in the oven right along with the bread.
Place loaves on a greased baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush risen loaves with beaten eggs, and bake in for 45 to 55 minutes, or until dark golden.
Once the loaves have cooled somewhat, you can pull the egg out of the middle and fill the remaining divot with 1-2 Tbs. salt. The whole eggs will be somewhere between soft and hard boiled, and delicious with the freshly baked bread!