-A simple icing, not included with the recipe, would be one for a German fruit cake: Beat 1¾ cups confectioner’s sugar with 1½ tbsp rum or Kirsch (cherry brandy) and 2 to 3 tbsp lukewarm water into a paste. Smear this over the cake like a thick glaze and garnish with candied cherries and citron.

Macedonian Wedding Bread

wedding bread

In northern Greece, the Peloponnesus, parts of the Ukraine and Croatia, this bread, round like a wedding ring for unending love, becomes the center of a circle dance after which the bride and groom tear it apart and whoever gets the bigger piece is revealed as the new family’s “breadwinner.” This seems the easiest of the recipes, although one Macedonian said nobody she knows would use ouzo.

Makes 2 9” round loaves

8 to 10 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
8 large fresh eggs
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water
Zest of a large lemon, grated
1 cup white raisins
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
1⁄3 cup ouzo
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Combine 8 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder and soda in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and break eggs into it. Add 1⁄2 cup olive oil, water, lemon zest, raisins, almonds and ouzo. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, into a smooth, firm ball. Continue to knead until it’s silky, maybe 10 minutes, and reform into ball. Leave it in the bowl, covered, for 30 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil two 9”x 3” round cake pans with the remaining olive oil. Half the dough, and on a lightly floured work surface, roll each half into a 9” circle no more than 1” thick. Fit them into the pan. Use you fingers to pinch the surface for decoration, then sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

-Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until top is a light golden brown and bread springs back from touch. Cool before unmolding.

-An alternative way to bake this is to roll the dough into balls and fit these into the two cake pans, side by side. Remember they will rise and spread and join together, like buns.

Sandra Garson is the author of Veggiyana, the Dharma of Cooking and How to Fix a Leek and Other Food From Your Farmers’ Market. As a longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism and well-known cook for Dharma centers from Maine to Mongolia, she became the first food historian to explore the Buddha’s influence on how the world now eats. This led to exploration of more religious beliefs about food.