sun bread

warm your bellies with this sunny recipe ::::

My kids are born of the sun, even being autumn-birthed babies. Peach runs around in the sprinklers in the summer, nary a complaint of the sun’s austere glare in her eyes or on her skin. Grub yanks off his UV-protective hat immediately when exposed to the bright sunlight. I’m always concerned that his almost bald head will soon become pink. Eat and Peach just think about the sun and they somehow radiate it, glowing golden brown. I am pale white, freckled, sometimes standing in the sun on a cool day to feel its warmth on my arms.

Just as I like warm sun occasionally, I also love warm, fresh bread. Born of the sun they are, Grub and Peach also love warm, cozy bread on sunny or cloudy days. Though Grub has only recently been experimenting on small nibbles of soft bread, Peach is clear about her love of  buttered bread. Sun Bread is the quintessential buttery bread, extra butter melting and soaking through its pores as well as mixed into the dough itself.

It was serendipitous that we discovered this recipe, Peach and I, when reading the book Sun Bread  by Elisa Kleven. Elisa weaves a delightful story about brightening a dreary winter day by baking a sun-shaped bread, even pulling the sun out of hiding. She is nice enough to allow me to post the recipe on my site. In addition to a writer and artist, she is also a seasoned baker, once baking 40 Sun (and Moon) Breads for a wedding!

This bread will undoubtedly bring warmth into the kitchen, no matter the time of year or the celebration. Even with the oven off, this bread emits the color of sunshine — oranges, yellows, browns. The richness and golden hue of eggs along with the butter help give color (think challah or brioche — Elisa’s inspirations). Because of the butter and the eggs, it browns fast, and can potentially burn. Watch carefully with a hot oven. It’s a quick baking time so chaperone closely. You don’t want to end up with a burnt Sun, a burnt-out star. And more importantly, nothing to eat.

Enjoy making this with your Peach (I helped her the first time we made it). We slathered it with salty butter as a filling snack. I also made it most recently (photos finally!) for a side with dinner, butter a definite  must.

For more on the back story on this bread, check out Elisa’s website and the “Teacher Activities” link here. And check out her general website for all of her wonderful books!

Day-old toasted bread with honey-sweetened cranberry jam and butter


5.0 from 2 reviews
sun bread
Recipe type: bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted*
  • 2 packages dry yeast (1 package = 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm milk
  1. Mix eggs and sugar well.
  2. Combine flour and butter.
  3. Add the eggs mixture to the flour mixture and beat well.
  4. In a small bowl combine yeast and milk. Allow to stand until mixture is foamy, at least 5 minutes.
  5. Add the yeast mixture to the batter and stir. Knead dough on greased, floured surface for 8-10 minutes. (My dough is usually very sticky and buttery so I add ¼ to ½ cup more flour whenever I knead this dough.)
  6. Place dough in greased bowl, cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour (dough will be doubled in size).
  7. Gently deflate dough, knead for 5 minutes, then separate into 2 portions.
  8. To form the sun's face, shape one portion of the dough into a round, somewhat flattened ball, then place on a large greased (or covered with cornmeal) baking sheet. (I also used parchment paper.) With the greased end of a wooden spoon or with your finger, poke two "eyes" in the sun: draw a mouth with same way (I use a wide-lipped glass and press it gently into the dough). Make sure the lines are deep so they won't close up during rising and baking. Make a nose by securely attaching a small ball of dough to its face.
  9. Make the corona of the sun by rolling one half of the remainder of the dough into four or five long "snakes." Curl the snakes into puffy "snail" shapes. Shape the rest of the dough into four or five puffy triangles. Firmly attach the snails and triangles to the sun's face. (Use some water if the dough is dry. My dough was very buttery and moist, so I did not need to.)
  10. Cover the sun and let it rise again in a warm place for about an hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. I sprinkled my sun's corona with red salt and white sea salt. Bake for about 10-20 minutes.** Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the bread. It should come out clean.
  12. Enjoy with a good salty butter, robust or floral honey, or jam.
  13. This bread is also wonderful as day-old toasted bread, with the above condiments.
* The original recipe did not specify salted or unsalted butter, so I used salted because there was no added salt in the recipe. ** Why such a large range of baking time? The original recipe said to bake for 20 minutes. The first two times I made this, I baked for 15 minutes on my middle oven rack and came out with a very brown sun. The photos show my most recent bread-making, at 10 minutes of baking time, for a golden sun. I suggest you peek at 10 minutes and check for doneness to decide if more baking is needed. Everyone's oven is a little different.


  • Jane Walker October 23, 2019 Reply

    Thank you so much for putting this recipe online. I had deep doubts about finding it. I fondly remember that beautifully illustrated book by Elisa Kleven and will be visiting family on the east coast this holiday season and will love baking this bread with them during those dreary wintery days. Again, thank you!

    • story kitchen October 23, 2019 Reply

      I’m so glad you found it! I still love that book.

    • Emily M November 10, 2019 Reply

      Your pictures are beautiful! Thank you for sharing this recipe here. A few months ago I made this bread with my son. We had borrowed a copy of the book from our Pender County, NC library.
      Since we don’t own a copy of the book I will need to write the recipe down. It made a huge sun bread for us! And I loved it with butter and honey.

      • story kitchen November 10, 2019 Reply

        Thank you and that’s great! I’m glad you can make it again. It’s a good time of year for it.

  • Anais December 21, 2019 Reply

    I’m making this right now! Unfortunately, mine didn’t rise that well because I used fresh ground wheat flour 🤦‍♀️ but it’s turning out cute and we’ll eat it regardless. We love celebrating solstice as a family!

    • story kitchen December 21, 2019 Reply

      I bet it will taste great! The shortest day of the year is a great time to make sunbread.

  • Bethany June 19, 2020 Reply

    is there something I can replace eggs with? Could I do this with a vegan recipe? Do you have one you can recommend?

    • story kitchen June 19, 2020 Reply

      I’ve never tried it but I’ve heard that using about 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce for 1 egg is a fair substitute. The crumb of the bread will be slightly different. I’ve heard other people using soaked flax seed (mimics the gooeyness of eggs). If you try either, let me know!

  • Ally Zonsius November 19, 2020 Reply

    Any thoughts on using alternative milk? Like almond or oat milk?

    • story kitchen November 19, 2020 Reply

      You can do a 1:1 replacement with either almond or oat milk, but sometimes separation or gummy texture can happen in breads. If you try it, let me know!

  • LKB December 13, 2020 Reply

    A friend asked me to help her make this, so I looked for a blogger who had made it. Thank you for posting your additional details. But I did notice that the original recipe calls for a 400 degree oven, not 425. (Perhaps this was changed in our edition.)

    • story kitchen December 13, 2020 Reply

      Hello! I don’t have an original copy of the book, so I’m not sure about the temp discrepancy. I may have adjusted because of my browning issues. 400 deg F would probably be fine as long as check for doneness.

  • Sun Bread | TheKittyCats December 23, 2020 Reply

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