These dragon bread loaves are a great, healthy treat for Michaelmas or any dragon-themed party. Each child crafts their own dragon bread, which is both a treat and a fun craft. Here are simple instructions for making these sweet, sourdough dragon loaves.
Why is Michaelmas Celebrated?
Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael, commemorates the triumph of Michael the Archangel over the great dragon of heaven, as told in the book of Revelations in the Bible. For Catholics, this is an annual feast day, but you don’t have to Catholic to enjoy the festivities.
One of the ways this day is celebrated is to tell the story of St. George and the Dragon, an old English folk tale about the great knight George who slays the fearsome dragon that’s been harassing the land.
After retelling the story, be sure to make this dragon bread with your guests, young and old.
Sweet Sourdough Dragon Bread
This simple, sweet sourdough bread recipe can be used to make these dragons that are both a cute craft and a tasty treat.
- 1 Cup Sourdough starter
- 3/4 Cup Honey
- 1 1/2 Cups Warm water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. Sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. Butter, room temperature; May also use coconut oil.
- 6 - 6 1/2 Cups Flour
- 2 Egg Whites, for a pre-bake wash
- Dragon Embellishments - raisins, or other dried fruit, cacao nibs*, chocolate bits, nuts and nut pieces, small candies
At Least 6 Hours Before Baking
- Combine the starter, water, honey, salt and butter in a mixing bowl. Mix until smooth;. If using a mixer, you can use the whisk or paddle attachment of your mixer first. Once done mixing, replace with dough hook attachment.
- Add flour in 1 cup increments and mix until incorporated in between. The dough will clean the sides of the bowl when it is thoroughly mixed. The dough will be slightly sticky still but don't add too much flour or this will dry out the bread. See notes for more info.
- Take out the dough hook and scrape off dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and keep in warm place until doubled. This can take 6-10 hours.
- Before the bread dough is ready to work, set up all the dragon embellishments on a large table with parchment paper, scissors, towels, etc.
- Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. You will need at least two if you are making mini-dragons.
- Wet your hands and punch down the dough. If making mini-loaf dragons, divide the dough into six even parts.
- Disperse the dough and begin decorating, reminding kids to work as quickly as they can.
- To make a basic dragon shape, roll a log of dough like a fat snake.
- Choose one end for the head and form a rounded diamond at that end to be its jaws and eyes.
- Twist the lower end up and over itself to be a coiled body.
- Press the tail end into a point.*
- Use pinched fingers to flair out ridges of dough to be raised scales. Go along these ridges and cut every quarter inch with the scissors. This will give you a scale-like bread once baked. You can also snip along the dragon's skin to create raised areas that will be scale-like once baked.
- Place raisins, cacao nibs, or small candies for eyes and nostrils, or anywhere else to create effect.
- Once ready, allow the dragons to rise a bit in a warm place, covered lightly, while the oven pre-heats.
- Pre-heat the oven.
- Brush the dragons with the egg white wash. Keep it light, but be sure to get the crevices.
- Bake at 325F/163C for 30-40 minutes or until an inserted thermometer reads 180F/82C. Cover dragons with tented foil if they are browning too quickly and you are concerned about scorching while the bake time finishes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to set up and cool a bit for at least 20 minutes.
- Serve warm with butter, honey, or jam.
Shape and Final Rise
Add flour slowly to the starter mixture and be sure to mix well in between additions. The flour will continue to absorb the liquid while the dough rise, and will stay slightly wet. You do NOT want to add too much flour, however. This will cause your bread to be very dry and breakable.
The dough will be the right consistency when it begins to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, clearing the dough bits from the bowl by absorbing them. You may need a little more flour if the ambient humidity in your kitchen is high.
*Cacao nibs hold up better on the outside of the dragon and be used as scales or accents. Chocolate chips and pieces, however, can be stuffed inside to melt.
**Wing creation can get complicated, especially with young children, so I usually make more Asian than European-styled dragons with long, snake-like bodies and no wings. If someone wants to make wings, encourage them to keep them small and fairly thick so they don't burn while the rest of the dragon is baking.
Setting Up the Dragon Bread Bits
Once the dough is ready, you’ll want to move quickly to form the dragons to keep the dough from drying out and to not interfere too much with its second rise. So, now is the time to get out all the dragon bits and bobs.
- Place each item into its own bowl to prevent confusion.
- Set up a space for each person shaping a dragon with parchment paper and an apron.
- Have a rolling pin, forks, and kitchen scissors on hand for shaping and stamping the dough.
- Be sure you know which dragon belongs to which child. They will most likely pay close attention and ensure that they get their very own dragon back once it’s baked. However, it pays to keep track yourself, too.
- Provide paper bowls for the finished dragons because they tend to end up a little messy, especially if a child has stuff their dragon with treats.
Keep an eye on the kids and be sure they don’t over-stuff their dragons, or themselves, with candies and chocolates. Honestly, your baking time may vary depending on how creative your kiddo has been with their dragon creation.
No matter! The goal for Michaelmas is to be heroic, have fun, and make a mess! Just be sure everyone heroically cleans up after themselves when you’re done.
Want More Holiday Fun?
This article is inspired from the Michaelmas section of our upcoming book, Homestead Holidays. To get your own copy the moments it’s released, and to learn about special freebies and goodies, be sure to sign up below. (We only send you Homestead Holidays information, nothing else.)