We include this day in our calendar, even though it is a Protestant and often polemical celebration, because we believe that Luther and the reformers offered a moment of growth and transformation for the general church. This is the day that Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. He had no intention of starting a new faith, instead he wanted to offer a correction to the church that had gone wayward. However, it set off a movement that could not be contained. The best of the movement was a focus on the centrality of grace.
Luther also pioneered the new technology of the printing press to make the Holy Scriptures available to the people in their own language. It is hard to overestimate the impact of Luther’s action. It transformed the church, Catholic and Protestant, in many ways. We celebrate the impact of this reformer, while praying for greater unity in the church as we all grow in accepting God’s grace.
For Reformation Day, October 31st, we are making Luther bread. Luther bread is a sweet bread filled with dried fruits, like apricot, raisins, and even chocolate. Tradition says that Luther’s wife, Katherine, a theologian in her own rite, was famous for this bread.
Pictured Above: Luther Nails the 95 Theses to the Door of Wittenberg Cathedral 31 Oct. 1517; Painting by Ferdinand Pauwels; 1872; Oil on canvas; 85 × 72cm; Eisenach, Wartburg.
8 cups Wheat Flour
1 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
4 1/2 teaspoons of Dry Yeast
1 1/3 cups Golden Sultana Raisins
1 1/3 cups Candied Oranges and/or Candied Lemons
13-1/2 fl oz 2% Milk
2 sticks Unsalted Butter
5 Tbsp Honey
4 drops Lemon Juice
1 Large Egg
3 Tbsp Apricot Preserves (for glazing)
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
- Warm the milk in a small sauce pan on the stove (don’t bring to a boil). Remove from heat and add the rest of the liquid ingredients, except egg, to the warmed milk. Stir to combine.
- Add the bowl of liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add the egg at the end. Stir and knead all ingredients until a soft and cohesive dough is formed.
- Cover dough with a towel and let rise for 30 min in a warm place.
- Grease 10-inch baking pan and dust with flour. Knead dough for a few more minutes then add dough to the baking pan. Let rise again for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 380 F.
- Bake the bread for 1 hour. Since the bread is made with wheat flour and will have a dark crumb, it is hard to visually know when the loaf is baked all the way through. Test the bread by “knocking” on the top or bottom. If the knock has a “hollow” sound, the bread is done.
- While still warm, glaze the bread with apricot preserves.