The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jesus Bread - Historic Bread Baking

guerrillafood's picture
guerrillafood

Jesus Bread - Historic Bread Baking

My mother has asked me to bake some bread for her Episcopal Church’s communion during the Christmas Mass. The Church is in (very) rural South Georgia, and only has 75 or so members all combined. (Episcopalians are kind of a rare breed down there). I am very honored to have been asked, because although this may be the smallest church in her town, it is by far the most worldly and savvy. These people travel to Israel, Rome, and all over.

So anyway, I am really looking to bake for them a bread that is as historically and anthropologically close to the bread that Jesus would have served at the last super. Even if you are not a Christian, or find that whole story ridiculous, I am looking for bread that would have been in that part of the world at that time. I don’t think AP flour was around. I know that Durum wheat was domesticated before the soft, red, spring, and winter wheat that we use in modern flours. Anyone got any tips?

These people are the Doctors and Judges of the town, and they will know B.S. if I try to pass off Turkish flat bread, or a whole wheat pita as bread from the last supper.

Thanks for you help guys. I LOVE this site!!!

dulke's picture
dulke

I have to say that your question really intrigued me. I have done some searching and have not found any recipes, sorry to say, but I did find this very interesting article about life in Ancient Israel, including a section about bread, http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=1356 . I am hoping that this will help point you/me/someone in the right direction.

Agape Seeker's picture
Agape Seeker

http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000815?q=unleavened+bread&p=par

BREAD

A baked food, sometimes leavened, the basic ingredient of which is flour or meal. Bread (Heb., le′chem; Gr., ar′tos) was a staple in the diet of the Jews and other peoples of antiquity, the art of bread making being common knowledge among the Israelites, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and others. Even in modern times in some parts of the Middle East, bread is of chief importance, and other types of food are of secondary significance. At times the Bible seems to use “bread” for food in general, as at Genesis 3:19 and in the model prayer, which contains the request: “Give us today our bread for this day.”—Mt 6:11; compare Ec 10:19, ftn.

In making bread, the Hebrews generally used wheat flour or barley flour. Wheat was more expensive, so persons might often have to content themselves with barley bread. Reference is made to barley bread at Judges 7:13; 2 Kings 4:42; and John 6:9, 13. Some flour was rather coarse, being prepared by the use of mortar and pestle. However, “fine flour” was also in use. (Ge 18:6; Le 2:1; 1Ki 4:22) The manna Jehovah God provided for the Israelites during their wilderness trek was ground in hand mills or pounded in a mortar.—Nu 11:8.

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The last supper was a Passover sedar. The bread that would have been served was matzoh. This is unleavened bread, symbolizing the bread eaten by the Jewish people as they fled Egypt. They were in such a hurry, they did not have time for bread to rise. Thus, Matzoh is served at sedars to commemorate the flight from Egypt.

Recipes should be readily available.
David

taymoss's picture
taymoss

It is true that the last supper occured near the Passover festival, but scholars are divided about whether it was a Seder.  Here is detailed analysis of the arguments from Biblical Acheology Review. I tend to agree with those leaning away from the seder-hypothesis.


Tay Moss

Gunnersbury's picture
Gunnersbury

Although it was the last supper that Jesus partook of with his disciples, it wasn't the Passover feast, I believe. Even Leonardo Di Vinci thought thusly: look at the bread on the table of his Last Supper. It's leavened bread. 


 

Agape Seeker's picture
Agape Seeker

Many people are confused about The Last Supper details. A highly overlooked fact is that Jesus initiated TWO ceremonial suppers.  The first supper, known as the Passover, did occur on the night of Nisan 14 as was traditionally done by the Jews.  THIS SUPPER was how Jesus identified his betrayer, Judas Iscariot.  After Judas Iscariot was dismissed, THEN Jesus instituted the Memorial of Christ's Death, more commonly known as The Last Supper, in which he instituted a new covenant by virtue of his blood!

Ramona's picture
Ramona

Definitely need to leave out white flour.  Sometimes in the scriptures, barley bread was used to represent tough and courageous events, like with Elijah and Gideon.  I wouldn't be surprised if the last supper bread had barley flour, after all, Jesus was about to allow himself to be tortured and murdered.  Spelt flour was also used in biblical times. 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Kamut and emmer were used in ancient Egyptian baking so it would be a fair bet that they also were used in Israel - especially after  Moses. According to Wikepedia, wild emmer has been found at archeological sites in Israel dating back to 17,000 BC and domesticated emmer dating back to 7700 BC. Spelt may also have been used - so one of these would be hard to disprove as having some authenticity!
There is a wealth of material about the history of Jewish cooking so it should be possible to find out quite a bit about it.
Andrew

goetter's picture
goetter

Take one of David's matzoh or passover-bread recipes (http://www.livingcog.com/ubrecipe.htm looks good to me, but I'm a Gentile, what do I know?), use whole-meal emmer wheat or durum wheat flour, and you'd seem to be set.

guerrillafood's picture
guerrillafood

Is Matzo supposed to be soft and moist like pita (but without the leavened hole(s) in the crumb? Or is it crisp like a cracker? Forgive me my ignorance. I was raised in south Georgia, my aunt was the only jewish person I ever met until I was 25 years old. And she made the best ham and cheese sahdwiches ever, if you catch my drift.

 

 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

is like a cracker, pretty dry..umm..more like a table water cracker than a Ritz type cracker

guerrillafood's picture
guerrillafood

Maybe that is why in the Bible Mark 14:22 says: "While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said..."

I looked at 13 different English translations of the original text, and every one of them uses the verb "break" when refering to the bread. So, I guess I am pretty sure that the bread was crisp, as Matzo would be.

My last issue is more to do with the grain used. According to jewish dietary traditions of today, Matzo has to be made from one of the following grains: barley, oats, rye, spelt, or wheat. Now, it is my understanding that wheat was not discovered/domesticated until after Jesus' demise. (Fact check anyone???). I think Durum Wheat may have been around during this time? Arghhhhh!!! My brain is melting!

If anyone can find what the historical/scientific community agrees to be the style of and grain used to make the bread that Jesus had, I'd be very thankful.

 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I can't say what might have been meant by that passage, but "broken meats" were just bits carved from a whole roasted joint or whatever.  The servants traditionally got to eat the broken meats after the lord of the manor and his guests were done eating what they wanted.  "Breaking bread" might just mean tearing a whole loaf into pieces.

Agape Seeker's picture
Agape Seeker

Mark relates concerning the bread used by Jesus when instituting the Lord’s Evening Meal: “As they continued eating, he took a loaf, said a blessing, broke it and gave it to them, and said: ‘Take it, this means my body.’” (Mr 14:22) The loaf of bread was the kind on hand for the Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples had already concluded. This was unleavened bread, as no leaven was permitted in Jewish homes during the Passover and the associated Festival of Unfermented Cakes. (Ex 13:6-10) Leaven is used Scripturally to denote sinfulness. The unleavened quality of the bread is appropriate because it represents Jesus’ sinless fleshly body. (Heb 7:26; 9:14; 1Pe 2:22, 24) The unleavened loaf was flat and brittle; so it was broken, as was customary at meals in those days. (Lu 24:30; Ac 27:35) Earlier, when Jesus miraculously multiplied bread for thousands of persons, he broke it in order to distribute it to them. (Mt 14:19; 15:36) Consequently, the breaking of the Memorial bread apparently had no spiritual significance.

Agape Seeker's picture
Agape Seeker

http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000815?q=unleavened+bread&p=par

 

BREAD

A baked food, sometimes leavened, the basic ingredient of which is flour or meal. Bread (Heb., le′chem; Gr., ar′tos) was a staple in the diet of the Jews and other peoples of antiquity, the art of bread making being common knowledge among the Israelites, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and others. Even in modern times in some parts of the Middle East, bread is of chief importance, and other types of food are of secondary significance. At times the Bible seems to use “bread” for food in general, as at Genesis 3:19 and in the model prayer, which contains the request: “Give us today our bread for this day.”—Mt 6:11; compare Ec 10:19, ftn.

In making bread, the Hebrews generally used wheat flour or barley flour. Wheat was more expensive, so persons might often have to content themselves with barley bread. Reference is made to barley bread at Judges 7:13; 2 Kings 4:42; and John 6:9, 13. Some flour was rather coarse, being prepared by the use of mortar and pestle. However, “fine flour” was also in use. (Ge 18:6; Le 2:1; 1Ki 4:22) The manna Jehovah God provided for the Israelites during their wilderness trek was ground in hand mills or pounded in a mortar.—Nu 11:8.

Ramona's picture
Ramona

I was trying the whole time, when I made my last reply to think of Kamut.  I agree with Andrew, I have read many times that Kamut was a grain going back to bibilical times in Egypt.  But I also am convinced that there is barley involved too.  And they did use spelt also, ever hear of Ezekiel 4:9 bread?

If you want I also have access to some really good information that talks about what "breaking of bread" meant in the past, with different scriptural examples, as well as, what it means in some parts of the world today.  It's only a page long.  You could read it to those people the night that you present your bread.  Just a thought. 

goetter's picture
goetter

Qv http://www.kew.org/scihort/ecbot/papers/nesbitt2001wheat.pdf

http://www.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/wheatandproducts.php

and p 459 of the Tyndale Bible Dictionary, under "fitch."

The second link at odu.edu has some interesting additional information on milling and baking back in the day.  No discussion of unleavened breads, though. unfortunately.

naschol's picture
naschol

This is an intersting read - http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1996/V3-156.html#KAMUTOrigin

 

It says that kamut is thought to be the ancient form of today's durum and also has origins of other grains.

 

Nancy

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

There is a WONDERFUL web site everyone seems to have missed. It is http://www.foodtimeline.org and has information about when different foods became available.

Bread is thought to be date to around 10,000 BCE, and there is some debate as to whether a taste for bread or ale caused people to give up their nomadic ways and begin an agricultural life style.

Wheat was bred into forms we'd recognize today (according to Wikipedia) around 5,000 years ago, and was widespread at that time. The Biblical references to separatating the wheat from the chaff suggests that modern wheat was not only known, but common by that time. Earlier wheats could not be separated so easily.

Leavened bread is thought to date back to around 4,000 to 3,500 BCE, with pita and focaccia style breads being the ones thought to be among the first raised breads.

Challah, in recognizeable form, is said to date to around 70 AD.

Dr. Ed Wood in his "World Sourdoughs From Antiquity" book recounts the project he worked on with National Geographic to reproduce the bread making technology in use in the time when the pyramids were being built. They used drawings on the walls of the pyramids which showed bread making in some detail as their guide. In the end, they produced breads that would be recognized today as leavened, sourdough breads.

The separation of bran from the flour is also not a new thing, but it wasn't until around 1700 AD that the introduction of fine Chinese silks allowed for the economical separation of the bran and the production of white flour, according to British Federation of Bakers (http://www.bakersfederation.org.uk/industrial_age.aspx)

So... what sort of bread to make? You have lots of choices. The term "breaking bread" can refer to any bread. You don't have to hear it crack to break it. When you render a soft loaf into pieces, you have broken the bread.

Any flat bread is a likely candidate - matzo, pita or focaccia,

As are risen breads, such as Challah.

In all cases, make the breads with whole grain flour. Wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats or a mix of the them could be used.

Since Jesus was Jewish, during passover he would have eaten unleavened bread. The Kosher rules for the making of unleavened bread during passover are quite strict - no more than 18 minutes may elapse from the time the flour is moistened until the dough is in the oven. This serves to insure no accidental fermentation or rising will occur.  The care of the grain before grinding is also regulated to insure the grain does not come in contact with water, which could start fermentation.

A search of the net was frustrating. Most matzo recipes were recipes that used matzo in them, such as matzo balls, matzo ball soup, matzo-rella lasagna, and on and on. And many of the recipes that purported to make matzo bread used matzo meal or matzo flour which are ground up matzo bread (or crackers).  This seemed to be a modern affectation that really wouldn't do for an authentic recreation.

I finally found a recipe that looks good at http://www.allholidayrecipes.com/passover/matzoh.shtml

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
spring water

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix two flours together and add water until you have a soft, kneadable dough. Knead about five minutes. Let dough rest a couple of minutes.

Break off egg-sized portions of dough. Stretch as thinly as you can before rolling into thin, oval slabs that are as thin as possible.

Prick each slab with a fork or pastry docker. Place on baking sheet and as soon as sheet is filled with matzohs, place in oven, and bake until crisp and buckled, about 3 minutes. Cool and eat.

Depending on how authentic you want to be, you could use all wholewheat flour, and you could get a mill and grind your own wholewheat flour from wheat kernels.

If you want to be authentic, keep things moving fast, you have 18 minutes from the time the water and flour mix until it has to be in the oven.  You might also use baking stones rather than the parchment paper.  The matzo's I've seen all look like they were baked on a hearth.

For times of the year other than Passover, Challah, Focaccia, or a leavened flatbread - all made with whole wheat flour and raised with sourdough, would be good choices.

Hope that helps,

Mike

 

A Sarah's picture
A Sarah

 

In John's gospel the last supper is on the day of preparation for Passover, and not actually during the festival, so if you really wanted to do leavened you could always say it's Johannine Jesus bread. :) Unleavened would then I guess be synoptic Jesus bread.  I'd only mention that if the church has a high proportion of dorks, LOL.

 (btw -- this is my first comment other than my intro, so, er... Hi everyone!  Nice to meet y'all!)

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

I don't know of a reference that would imply that the bread at at the Last Supper was unleavened or leavened, as it appears to be a normal meal... but the last that Jesus would share with the disciples.  It is traditional to use unleavened bread at the last supper.  The Bible always requires unleavened bread at sacrifices, but the last supper (Eucharist for some) is a 'in memory of' or memorial type of tradition that we are to observe.  Personally, I'd choose unleavened bread but not because of guesses about what kind of meal was had, but what the Bible indicates about leaven and out of respect for the communion.


In Exodus 12:8, the Jews were to make unleavened bread for their journey, were to roast the meat, etc ...which implies the use of unleavened bread for reasons of haste.


In Exodus 12:15 leaven seems to take on additional meaning since they are asked to ostracize someone for disobeying the order to remove leaven from their homes for a week.


The meaning becomes more clear as you look at New Testament references.


In the whole chapter of 1-Corinthians 5, it very clearly equates leaven with sin or evil.  In Matthew 16:6 and 16:11-12, it once again illustrates sin or evil in our lives with how leaven works in bread.


To make bread for holy ceremonies with yeast in it appears to be the wrong thing to do, analogous inviting sin into a holy ceremony.  The act of leaving the leaven out reminds us of holiness and purity.  It's why leavened products and leavening (yeast) is not allowed in a home during Passover.  Even though Christ may have been eating normal leavened bread (was it normal?) at the Last Supper, I would personally continue the research but would limit it to finding out what type of unleavened breads were used for holy events and sacrifices in the Old Testament and choose from those results as being the most honorable choice.  How to cook the various breads would be something else to find out, e.g. a thinly rolled wheat/water dough placed on a hot iron grill will puff up like a pillow but a baked version would produce a hard cracker.  Which way is right for the circumstances?


Brian


 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Given that the Last Supper occurred during the Passover feast, the bread would certainly have been unleavened.  See dmsnyder's comment near the top of this thread.


Paul

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Ah yes... You are correct of course.  I forgot about the timing for a second. (Thx)  I guess that seconds the call for unleavened bread!


Brian


 

hardrockbaker's picture
hardrockbaker

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The people in that area new about wild yeast. That spells sourdough.


There is no big difference between Christian, Jewish or Moslem's bread. Its all made from water, flour, salt and the famous sourdough.


Durum flour I think was not around by then. Maybe spelt or something like that.


For Christians it is important to break their bread. Therefor it was probably leavened.


Flat bread was usually made when on the move or chased by enemies. No time to let the dough rise in war times. Flat bread also needed less space.


 


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And: who in his right mind eats a flat bread, when he could have a nice crispy one.


 

taymoss's picture
taymoss

As an Episcopal Priest, I find this thread fascinating, and have many, many opinions on what makes good eucharistic bread.  I have to say, Matzo makes terrible altar bread.  It's very difficult to break it up into reasonable-sized communion pieces without spreading crumbs everywhere.  And crumbs are the bane of the church ladies and priests everywhere!


So, in my experience an ideal communion bread is unleavened, but just moist enough to break apart without many crumbs.  It should be round, about 8 inches across and half-an-inch thick for a congregation of 75.  Score the top of it with a large cross. The volunteer that makes the altar bread for our church even has a special knife that she reserves just for this purpose (and has prayers she says as she does so).  Make a good-sized batch, then freeze them individually in ziplock bags.  Tell the altar guild or priest to NEVER THAW IN THE MICROWAVE--simply take one out of the freezer on Sunday morning and it will be thawed by the time Communion comes.


I've heard of people adding a little honey to the recipe to add sweetness, and I see nothing wrong with that.  This bread should be tasty, and not at all chewy. 


Blessings!


The Rev'd Tay Moss

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I was under the impression that frozen bread makes more crumbs on the alter than fresh bread.  (pk)


I would have to be of the group that supports sourdough leavened bread for both historical reasons and having a healthier choice.  I also think it should be lean and contain no fat or sugars.   It could be a sourdough pizza crust.

uncle goosehead's picture
uncle goosehead

if you're having communion, any strong flavour hints would seem to me to be distracting.  The priest who posted Rev'd Tay: I wonder if the recipe is available?  I would expect that it contains oil, probably olive.  I know from making pitas and focaccia that the right amount to oil and not excessive gluten development creates a semi-firm bread from which pieces can be pulled away cleanly, leaves no crumb and is not chewy.  This would seem to me to be the right thing when the cup is coming right after.  The bread should be a symbolic definite presence, but not distracting in anyway itself.  Just my 2¢.  (new user, first post outside of introductions)

michaeltop's picture
michaeltop

there is a old world bread ,torte al testo, unleaven and baked on a stone or in a cast iron pan.  The bread is broken into pieces to serve.

ph_kosel's picture
ph_kosel

I bake sourdough and have discovered the Presbyterian pastor at my wife's church likes the stuff and writes great thank you notes.  They use bread in Sunday services year round, typically batard loaves procured by some church commitee which they tear up and pass out with a bit of grapejuice.  I was a bit apalled the one and only time I stood in line for such a snack - yeasted whole wheat with a side of warm Welch's grapejuice is not my preference.

Because that pastor is so appreciative when I give him some decent sourdouh I thought it would be fun to try to reproduce the stuff Jesus actually ate from day to day, not just for Passover.  Passover is only once a year, after all.

From what I can tell from a bit of google research, the every-day bread they ate in those days and that neighborhood would have the following characteristics.  (1) It would be a sourdough of some sort because they didn't have commercial yeast.  (2) It would be a whole grain bread because milling technology of the day dictated that.  (3) It would,  likely as not, usually be a flatbread (although other shapes were made too) cooked on a stone or possibly in something similar to an Indian "tandoor", usually made with a "lean" dough although seeds,  fruit, and such were sometimes added.  (4) It would typically be made from one or more of several grains reportedly extant in Israel in that general time period: (a) einkorn wheat(Triticum monococcum); (b) emmer wheat(Triticum dicoccon), also known as "farro"; (c) durum wheat (Triticum durum); (d) bread wheat (Triticum aestivum); (e) six row barley (Hordeum vulgare) and/or two row barley.

The biggest uncertainty I have is the type of grain used to make the bread Jesus would usually have eaten.  My tentative guess is that the dominant grain might have been emmer wheat (farro) since that was reportedly a standard ration of Roman troops, has been found growing wild in Israel, and is believed to be a precurser to more modern wheats.  My second guess would be common bread flour (whole wheat, of course), and after that durum.  A bit of malted barley could perhaps also have been thrown in as it is in modern bread flours.

Does anybody more knowledgable than myself have an opinion on what grain(s) went into the bread(s) Jesus usually ate?

ph_kosel's picture
ph_kosel

The pastor I previously mentioned recently sent me a copy of an article on biblical-era bread.  It says less-well-to-do folks made bread out of barley rather than wheat.  I think sourdough can be made from barley more or less the same as from wheat.

NancyT's picture
NancyT

I have just recently been baking bread for communion in our Presbyterian church, and the more loaves I bake, the more I have wondered what grains would have been used.  This thread of comments is so helpful:  a lot of people are wondering the same thing, and you folks have been discussing this for a number of years.  Next time I will be a bit closer to the original version--maybe!  

There was a review of a book, Bread:  A Global History, by William Rubel, on November 26 - 27 in the Wall Street Journal, reviewed by Steven L. Kaplan, Goldwin Smith professor of European history at Cornell and the author of Good Bread Is Back.    Hoping to find some answers, I was able to contact Dr. Kaplan, who is currently living in Paris.  Although his expertise and interest is in French Bread, he was kind enough to reply.  As his answer centered around the leavened, unleavened controversy,  I have written him back to see if he has any more information concerning the type of grains that would have been available and most likely used.  Fascinating subject.

What a wonderful site for bread makers!  I will stay tuned.  Thank you all.

 

nhtom's picture
nhtom

The host is SYMBOLIC.  It symbolizes His body.

To make it "authentic" it would have to be His body - or at least meat.

Chocolate chip cookies or even Triscuits would "work."

If your doctor friends can't figure that out you need to send them back to Sunday school.

In other words, don't sweat it.  "You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."

Whatever you make, make it with love.  That's all.

Bee18's picture
Bee18

in 1990 I was invited with my family to share the Passover diner by a kurdistan jewish family. They were living in Israel since they arrived in the 1950'ies  straight from Irak.

I was surprised to see the meals of their diner in comparison with our european jewish culture, and back then I thought that they were closer to the history than we were. The " matza" was especially at the center of my attention and of my kids interest. It was looking like a Pita of about 1/2 centimeter thickness and the color was grey/brown. it was not crispy at all like the modern european matza and when "broken up" - which is the right term to use for bread and it is the right translation of the hebrew term - it was somewhat moist inside. I was told that they used Wholewheat flour especially milled for the Passover time, and mixed it with water nothing else. from the minute they had mixed the ingredients and the time past to bake it on a big metal disc with a firewood lighted underneath only 18 minutes had past. The flavor was not very appealing to our palate... Since this people transmitted the tradition of cooking from mother to daughter for centuries and they never saw a modern loaf of bread until 1950, I would believe that it was the bread that Jesus may have broke up (shared) between him and his companions. The other meal that was unusual for us was the meat : mutton head. which also seemed very genuine. until now in the middle eastern countries non jewish populations are traditionally eating only flat bread (pitas from all sort of flours, forms and sizes) and the mutton (lamb) is their first choice before chicken or beef. In the time of Jesus and before it was easier to have a herd of lamb than cows and until today the beduins in Israel have this kind of herds. The last thing that was also very much different was their " harosset" which is a mixture made of fruit and nuts and it is to remind us the mortar used to build the cities of Pharoes during the 400 years captivity of the Israeli People in Egypt.The european ways is to use apples mixed with wallnuts ginger powder and some red sweet wine ( in some families horseraddish is added to the mixture) The Jewish families who came from Irak, or other arabs countries to Israel do not use apples but Dates - in a form of thick syrup named Silan - with nuts and it's rather liquid than thick, and there is a logic to that because the way of eating in these countries was and still is to use a piece of bread-pita to pick up - or dip - the food presented on the table, also Dates were one of the main fruits in these hot countries where apples were unsual.

Back at the time of Jesus I would say that they could have use kamut or spelt but surely not the kind of wheat we use today.

I suppose that my reply in 2011 will not help guerillafood who wrote is question in 2007... but it's my small contribution to the community of TFL who keep an interest to multiple subjects that had been raised in the past.

Bea

taymoss's picture
taymoss

It is worth studying the foods that Jesus and his companions would have recognized and eaten. For that I commend the book The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast by Jeff Smith. It has fascinating culinary history and wonderful recipes and is readily available on Amazon and other places. But when it comes to Communion Bread, simulating the breads of ancient palestine is much less important than striking a balance between evoking the past and the practical purpose of giving people communion in a church. The medieval church moved to using wafers rather than real bread for a reason: wafers are very practical. Lucky for us, it is more possible than ever for a home cook to make a suitable altar bread.

As a parish priest (Episcopal), I've tasted my share of homemade Communion Breads, and this recipe is my favourite by far. It's not too crumbly or tough. It's dense but not too dense. And it tastes a little sweet. Kids and adults love it. Our baker does these in batches and freezes them in individual zip lock bags. I simply take one out of the freezer a few hours before worship to thaw. She bakes these with great care and even has a special knife to score a cross on the surface. The prayerfulness of this craft is an important detail! So here is the recipe that our church has been using for many years:

Altar Bread
by Geraldine W.
The Church of The Messiah, Toronto

Combine:

  • 4 Cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix in a large measuring cup:

  • 1/4 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 3/4 Cup milk
  • 3/4 Cup water

Directions Add enough of wet to dry ingedients to make a soft dough. Knead gently. Then roll it into a long roll, and cut that roll into as many sections as you want loaves, and make them all the same size. Shape them into circles with your hands; make sure it's very flat, if not actually indented in the centre, or else the centre might not bake through. Apply a milk and egg wash with a paintbrush and score the surface with a cross. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 on a greased cookie sheet. Enjoy!

Tay Moss, Toronto Canada

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and thought it inspiring both for artistic and historical value.  Always wondered seeing "stamps" as "gifts" from foreign visitors in Asian museums and wondered if they were not given to stamp bread (a totally foreign food product) and failed to meet their intended use.

http://www.prosphora.org/stamps.html

Mini

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

I wonder how hard it would be to design, carve, then cast your own stamp(s)?  People use stamps like these for cheese too (although you better sterilize it first ...yeast is the last thing you want in your homemade cheese as it ages).

Brian

 

drkatiam's picture
drkatiam

You might also consider looking up Essene Bread as part of your research into this bread that you wish to make.

In Peace,

Drkatiam

 

 

mgbeheler's picture
mgbeheler

Bread recipe (sort of) direct from the Bible, http://biblehub.com/exodus/29-2.htm
New International Version
"And from the finest wheat flour make round loaves without yeast, thick loaves without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves without yeast and brushed with olive oil."