Welcome to August! The first is another day which goes by multiple names due to supposed cultural appropriation, however I’ve gone with Lammas as my turn today is bread related. Lammas comes from the Saxon, hlaf-maesse, meaning loaf mass, which is said to have jumped on the Celtic celebration of Lughnasadh, or Lughnasa celebrating the sun god Lugh. It was also known as the Gule of August, a medieval moniker, although the meaning of the term Gule remains a mystery.
Anyhow, regardless of the name, today is all about celebrating the abundance of the season, and the start of the harvest. And one of today’s more popular customs was to make bread. But I’m rubbish at making bread, I no longer have an airing cupboard, my other yeasted treats have been a disaster, and I find making gluten free loaves about as fun as my plucking nose hairs with a peg. However, there is also a tradition of making seasonal decorations out of salt-dough, which is what I went with.
I hadn’t expected to revisit salt-dough so soon after using it for my St James’s Day grotto construction, so I used a different recipe, just flour, salt and water, with no kneading. And I had fully intended to bake it this time, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t.
After spending the morning researching August and writing this month’s #FolkloreFOMO post (do read and join in, if you can!), my brain was pretty much fried. So I looked elsewhere for salt-dough inspiration and came upon the Instagram craze of art bread. This is bread, usually focaccia, used as a canvas to bake in edible paintings like bunches of flowers or fields. So I thought I would combine the two practices using whatever I could forage as inspiration.
Which turned out to be not as much as I’d hoped for, as the poppies had all gone, the nasturtiums had been cut down and what was left looked a bit too complicated. But I managed to find some ragwort, thistles, dog roses, valerian, marshmallow, lavender, rosemary, and what I think are rose hips. But then plant identification is not one of my strong points.
The dough took no time at all to make and was more elastic than the last batch. As I have no idea where my old modelling tools are, I used an ordinary knife, an apple peeler and a fondue fork as my weapons. However, the rosemary and lavender smelled so good that I didn’t bother modelling them, I just dug them into the dough straight away, hence me not being able to put it in the oven.
Salt-dough isn’t the most delicate of modelling materials, so I cheated on numbers of petals, and used an impression of the marshmallow leaf to work around. Obviously the dough is still wet so I won’t be able to paint it for a bit, but I’m really pleased with the outcome. And despite being desperately tired this afternoon, it was lovely to lose myself in a bit of making.
Oh and there’s a poll at the end of this month’s #FolkloreFOMO – who is the best Robin Hood. Not to influence the results at all, but the obvious answer is Michael Praed. Or the Disney fox. Or Maid Marion and her Merry Men.
I actually made it to month eight.
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Forest, D. (2016) The Magical Year, Seasonal Celebrations To Honour Nature’s Ever-Turning Wheel, London, Watkins
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books