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Baking Eucharistic Bread

recipe to bake Eucharistic Bread
Baking St Barnabas’ Eucharistic Bread

Synchronicity.

Last week I gave a talk at St Barnabas, Fendalton, the parish where, two decades ago, I served my title.

As I walked into the gathering many mentioned my introduction of the roster to bake the Eucharistic bread there. And my recipe to do this.

A fortnight ago we were talking on this site about this very recipe.

I was soon provided with a copy.

Click here for a PDF version I have prepared from this. Use it as a hand-out, or any other way that is useful in your community.

And here it is:

 

We who are many are one body
for we all share the one bread

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoons active yeast
sugar
4 cups white flour
1½ teaspoons salt
(100mg Vitamin C = ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid)
2 tablespoons butter
milk

Recipe:

Take ¼ cup of warm water (36°-40° C = 97°-104° F), add ¼ teaspoon sugar, stir. Sprinkle 1½ teaspoons yeast on top of this. DO NOT STIR. Let yeast solution stand.

Mix 4 cups white flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1½ teaspoons salt, 100 mg Vitamin C in a bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter, add ½ cup hot water and ½ cup cold milk. This liquid needs to be be about the same temperature as the yeast solution.

The yeast solution should now have been standing 10 minutes and be frothy. Give the yeast solution a quick stir and pour it into the dry mix, add the butter-milk-water solution too.

Mix by hand in the bowl, adding more water if required to give a soft, slightly-sticky dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for 10-15 minutes. Dough will spread back when touched lightly. Divide into three approximately equal parts and knead and shape each into a circular, flat loaf. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place till doubled in size.

Turn out. Using a knife mark a cross on top of each loaf; this will help the priest to break it at the appropriate time in the Eucharist. Allow to rise again.

Preheat oven to 220°C (428°F). Bake on greased tray for about 10-15 minutes. The bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base, and is lightly browned but not too crusty or it will become difficult to administer.

As the bread should not crumble, I have found it best to provide as fresh a loaf as possible, and have baked this the night before. From the three I baked each time I chose the one about 15cm (6″) across the diameter, and 7cm (3″) “high”. The others you can enjoy yourself. I haven’t tried dividing the recipe by three. If you have any hints or suggestions please let me know. Thank you for your help. I hope it adds another dimension to your celebration of the Eucharist.

Bosco

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26 Responses to Baking Eucharistic Bread

  1. There are those who would consider your recipe a design in heresy, as they propose that the only orthodox communion bread is bread made in haste and unleavened, as was the bread that Jesus would have used at that last meal with the disciples, following the rubrics for Passover.

    Are you happily leading us down the road to hell Father? ]:)

    • I’m certainly no expert, Toni. My understanding is that it does not affect the taste; but I think that it might help with the springiness, the moisture, make it less crumbly, and provide greater consistency (less individuality) between baker and baker, loaf and loaf. Someone else may be able to provide more information. Blessings.

  2. Is this glutten free. I wonder is there a glutten free recipe abouts. I don’t mean low glutten, but glutten free.

      • The thing is, as Church we must not exclude from the Table those who approach. As a Catholic I know the RC tradition exludes. But substance shouldn’t exlude. We need to provide for all dietry needs, or the mandatum of been given for all, becomes the exlusive, given for many, over matter of recipe.

      • You really are on a roll today, Br David!

        From a serious perspective, this is probably a whole other thread.

        Liturgical scholarship, I think, would be open to the discussion of inculturation. Bread is part of many but not all cultures. I would think that integral to starting such a discussion would be the many gathered to form one, broken to be shared amongst many
        [cf Didache 9:3 “As this broken bread was scattered over the hills and then, when gathered, became one mass, so may Thy Church be gathered…”

        A Vatican ruling on this is here. I wonder how this might be approached in the newer context there now…

        Synchronicity: my good e-friend Meredith Gould has been writing about this here.

        Blessings.

        • Padre, my attempt at humor with hints toward the recent heresy conversation, is also real in that there are very conservative Christians, those of the legalistic bent, who argue just those two and at least one more, points. That leavened bread is invalid for use at communion. That bread other than wheat is invalid for use at communion. Oh, and yes, that communion on any day other than Sunday is invalid. (I know of a Church of Christ senior minister in Westminster, CA, USA, who was fired because he merely expressed a belief that Christians could share communion on a day other than Sunday.) These folks are serious.

          And although there are very few qualifications to be found in the New Testament with regard to communion, there are a number of Old Testament verses which they point to with regard to the rules or rubrics for Hebrew Tabernacle/Temple worship which acquired the wrath of God to the point of death. (1 Sam 6:6 & 7)

  3. The things we worry about. The three synoptics certainly refer to last supper and unleavened bread. There are arguments about the day if one follows John.
    The greek word used for bread is general not the specific word for unleavened bread. And it may have been barley bread. Who knows from memories years after the event? And how does it matter?

  4. And if you like or are fundamentally more comfortable.
    Homemade Matzah)

    Ingredients: 
    1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
    Instructions: 
    1. Combine the oil, honey, salt, eggs, and water. Stir until well-mixed. Stir in about 4 cups of the flour, then add more flour as needed and knead into a fairly stiff dough.
    2. Divide dough into 3 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a large rectangle. You can make your matza as thin or as thick as you wish.
    3. Cut rolled dough into squares. Place squares onto lightly greased baking sheets. Prick with a fork.
    4. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven. For thin matza, bake 10-11 minutes. Matza should be very lightly browned on top.
    5. Removed baked matzah from baking sheet and place on wire rack to cool, covered with a clean towel. Store in an airtight container or bag.

  5. Thanks, Bosco, for linking to my post. Fran Szpylczyn posted it on Facebook and managed to get quite a conversation going. As promised, my next post was about the alcohol situation. Taken together, it’s a mini-series about exclusionary behavior as well as boundary violations.

    I’m pretty fed up with all of it and was delighted with Pope Francis’ recent comments about “open church.”

    As a practical matter, just about any recipe for bread with wheat flour can be made with a gluten free flour mix. These are usually made with rice flour and xanthan gum as a binding agent already mixed in.

    In North America gluten free baking mixes and ones specifically for baking bread are easy to find and not all that expensive anymore.

    Pax max…

  6. Here’s what we use in our Lutheran parish in NYC. It’s quite good:

    SAINT PETER’S COMMUNION BREAD

    4 cups whole wheat flour
    1 1/3 Tablespoons double acting baking powder
    1/2-3/4 cup honey (do not use eucalyptus honey)
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup cold water
    1/4 cup pure vegetable oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    Sift together flour and baking powder. Mix honey, milk and water together. Add vegetable oil and salt to the liquid. Add liquid to dry ingredients as needed, to make a smooth, soft dough, not too sticky to handle.
    Turn dough out on a slightly floured surface and knead it gently. Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Using the lid of a pot, cut into six-inch circles. Score into desired design to facilitate breaking the bread during the administration of the communion. (We suggest making about 8 scores on the bread at 90 degree angles which will form about 50 squares.)
    Place breads on a slightly greased cookie sheet.
    Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes. Because of variations in temperatures, you will soon find the exact baking time necessary for your oven. Make sure bread is uniformly flat before baking. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes as the edges will start to brown.
    Allow bread to cool. Store in plastic bags in refrigerator if using the next day.
    Bread can be made up to two days in advance and still remain fresh. It may also be frozen for future use. Thaw out in toaster oven for a few minutes.

  7. If we’re going for humour/humor then let me note that having been raised Jewish, let me caution you against eating lot’s of matzot without washing it down with prune juice. “Let my people go” has deep meaning for Jews.

  8. Oh dear me, the Lutherans hovering on edge with baking powde,r a leavening agent. Oh dear,oh dear, oh dear!!! But thanks for another receipt.
    And prune juice is OK. Sometimes have cause to drink it.

  9. This discussion has made me reflect that our Orthodox Christian(Easter rites etc)brothers and sisters use leavened bread, representing the Risen Christ. Is it not that we as a post Resurrection people make presence through word, sign and sacrament an Emmaus reality rather than a Last Supper recollection. Maybe the leaven of faith should leaven our bread afterall. While Jesus Risen passes through doors, we surely believe the Risen One has substance and leaven bread represents the growing life of a Resurrection People?

  10. There was huge discussion about leavened/unleavened bread in the past. First of all, the Church throughout de world used REAL wheat-only leavened bread. For example, in De Sacramentis, saint Ambrose tells us that they used ordinary bread.

    Armenians came the first with unleavened unbaked (but dry) bread, because they saw only raw bread to be «living bread». Later, Maronites and Latins were influenced by the Armenians, and began using unleavened bread. Saint Anselm tells us in his De sacrificio azymi et fermentati that in his time in West, both leavened and unleavened bread could be used, but only on pure wheat.

    Syrians began using oil too (remains of holy oils), but this is a late practice. Byzantines add salt too, while the Oriental Churches don’t.

    During the unionist councils, especially at Bâle-Ferrara-Florence, they couldn’t solve the contradiction between John and the synoptics, but they agreed with Anselm’s view, and decided that each Church should follow her own tradition. They also banned the Syrian practice of adding holy oils.

    Even in Iceland, where people would use only 2 kg of wheat per household per year, and where people would eat cheese instead of bread, they durst not use other things than pure wheat for the wafers.

    I grew up at my grandparents’ farm, where people used to eat vegan one third of the year (Wednesdays, Fridays, Lent, Advent, embertides), and lots of flesh and diary the other two thirds of the year. But nobody used animal products in bread. And when my grandma’s turn, three times a year, was to do and bake the eucharistic bread, she used the purest wheat she had (T45).

    Using a milk-and-egg pastry for Eucharist is unnecessary, and only a cause to tempt God and harm his people. That’s NOT bread. Not only I doubt seriously of its validity for the Eucharist, but it is a total lack of respect towards vegans (and galactosæmics, and lactose intolerants).

    It’s not a cultural thing. Otherwise, Jesus would have used lamb flesh instead of bread. Instead, Jesus used the elements which were seen the most festive (wine) and the simpliest (bread). Cæliacs and alcoholics were not an issue at that time. Jesus’ attitude of inclusive eucharistic elements has nothing to do with the exclusivist pie of the XXth century. Call me a self-righteous or a rigorist, but your pie is in no way a eucharistic bread. The Church of God is not a lab, and the people of God are not God’s holy rats to experiment fancy ideas on us.

    If some people are trapped somewhere, where no real wheat-only bread might been found, they may “do their best” with what they have at hand, just like the monk who baptized a dying guy with sand in the desert while they had no water. But where wheat-only flour T55 is available in all the stores, none has no excuse in using pies.

    The MCC, for purpose of inclusivity, uses only unfermented grape juice; and the Church of Norway only gluten-free wheat-only wafers. Those two attitudes are perfect within the Tradition of the Church, whereas:
    – the level of alcohol and time of fermentation have never been an issue for the Church;
    – even gluten-free wafers still have a very small amount of gluten.

    • So your purpose in resurrecting an old thread is to propose that we become some type of legalists in the guise of inclusivity?

      I think that Eucharist can be whatever a particular church chooses for it to be and it will be recognized as valid. And I do so under the keys of the commonweal; what we as a church propose to recognize on earth is recognized in Heaven!

      • When we have Eucharist, once per month, in our little congregation, I also have to prepare the supper following the Eucharist. Besides the vegan & vegetarian of us, there are several types of allergics. In order that our non-eucharistic meal be inclusive, I have to be “legalistic”.

        How much more “legalistic” we should be for a such important matter as Eucharist!

        The Eucharist is a sacrament of the unity, not of the division.

        «Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.»

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