Saturday, March 11, 2006

Communion Bread



I've dallied over this post for weeks now, adding a little now and then but mostly leaving it to sit for days on end as a draft. It's long past time to send it on its way, so off you go little post!

Part of my reluctance has been due to some uncertainty that this would be of interest to anyone. Maybe it won't... but when I look at the question the other way... would I be interested in a post on this subject or, more broadly, on the subject of religious traditions involving food, I am confident in the answer - yes! The other cause for delay was that I hoped to include some historical background, but had some difficulty coming up with much of anything.

Every two months or so it is my turn to bake communion bread for my church. It's a simple recipe for unleavened bread consisting of just whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and water. The ingredients are stirred together, kneaded, and then allowed to rest for a few minutes. They are then shaped, cut and baked.



My tools are simple: a couple of biscuit cutters and a bench scraper. The first time I made the bread (which was a number of years back), I didn't have a biscuit cutter that was the appropriate size for the inner-most circular cut. As I so often do, I had left the bread-making until the last possible moment, so I had to quickly improvise. I had a plastic coffee measure that was the right size, so I hacked at the handle with some scissors, pulled and twisted it until it finally came off. I tried my new cutter and it cut beautifully, the only problem was it created such a suction that it was difficult to pull away from the dough. I again dipped into my kitchen toolbox and found a sharp, two-pronged fork which I plunged (with some difficulty) into the closed end of my cutter creating some "breathing holes". Problem solved! My trusty little green cutter served me well for many years and even though it is now retired, I can't bear to throw it away.



The recipe makes eight loaves and each loaf is cut into forty pieces. Most of the time while I'm making the bread, I don't really think about its significance, but when I come to cutting it, particularly when I make the two long cuts - like a cross - I will silently give it a little blessing.

The baked bread has a nutty sweetness that is very good. Of course, I've never eaten more than one small piece at a time.

When I was very young, the only type of communion "bread" I knew were those thin white wafers. At some point (the mid seventies?), homemade communion bread similar to that above was used on occasion. At the church a attend these days, the homemade bread is used routinely and those little white wafers are used only when and if the bread runs out. Anyway, I was wondering how it came to be that those wafers were used for communion. I'm not sure there is a definitive answer to that question. This fascinating history of wafers and waffles says that "The introduction of the ritual wafer into the West cannot be accurately dated, although in the form taken over by Christians, it may have arrived in connection with the cult of Osiris once found throughout the Roman Empire." The other interesting fact I was previously unaware of, is that the eastern Christian church uses leavened bread for communion, apparently believing it to be symbolic of Christ's resurrection.

So that's my story... and guess what? It's taken me so long to write this, that it's my turn to make bread again next week!


Update: I've had several requests for the recipe, so here it is...

Communion Bread

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (540g)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour (170g)
2 1/4 cups warm water

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Mix flours together, then add water all at once. Stir until flour is moistened and begins to "clean" the sides of the bowl. When I make the bread I find there's still quite a bit of flour that is not incorporated into the dough at this stage - that's fine. Dump the whole mess out onto the counter or a board and begin kneading. Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth - you may need to add a little flour as you go if it becomes sticky (use whole wheat flour). When done kneading, cover the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes (I just leave it on the counter and turn the bowl upside down to cover it).

Divide the dough into 8 parts (I find a kitchen scale is very helpful here). Roll each piece into a ball then press into a circle about half an inch thick (it should be about 3 1/4 inches in diameter). Score each loaf into 40 pieces (see the photos above) - cut the smallest circle first, then the larger circle, then cut two straight lines at right angles all the way across the circle, then cut each quarter of the two outer circles into thirds (two cuts in each quarter), then cut each section in the outermost circle in two. When making cuts, cut all the way through or nearly so.

Place loaves on cookie sheets lined with parchment or lightly oiled. Bake bread for 15 to 18 minutes until the center is firm and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack.

68 comments:

Anne said...

I really loved this post Cathy - and the bread looks so pretty. I'd have never guessed that it was handcut, when I first saw the picture I felt sure there was a special kind of press or something involved :) Very nice!

Santos said...

great post! i am always interested in the significance of food in religion, because it can be rather provocative (the whole controversy of wheat allergies and the taking communion is something i'm rather troubled by.).

i've had the bread before and somehow always end up with the big chunk that nearly chokes me. i always feel a bit sorry for the poor folk who must consume all the consecrated bread at the end of the mass.

we use wafers here. almost everyone in california uses wafers as well. i wonder if in california there's a health code issue.

Rosa said...

Wow. How wonderful. We always get those stale wafers. I couldn't tell it was hand cut either. How beautiful! Must be the "Season." I just posted on Ukrainian Easter as I'm starting to make my pysanky. I had to give a little intro, like you. Thanks for sharing!

Nic said...

Very iteresting, Cathy. I have never seen communion bread like that before. It's beautiful!

Stephanie said...

Well, we're certainly interested!

I love the way it's made.

I know that in my old Catholic days, we only ever had the tastes-like-plastic-packaging white wafers...I think I'd have liked yours much better!

Michele said...

That is so cool, I've never heard of church members baking the bread. We always have those tiny little square cracker type.

Cathy said...

Hi Anne - thanks! You can see in the picture with the partially cut loaves that I don't always get things so well centered. :)

Hi Santos - thank you! While hunting around for background information, I came across that story of the little girl whose first communion was nullified because the host she was given was made of something other than wheat. I agree - it is troubling. It seems a small and insignificant detail for the church to get so hung up on, especially given the consequences for those that can't tolerate wheat.

That's interesting that you haven't encountered the bread more often... I had assumed its use was widespread these days.

Hi Rosa! I read your post and it's wonderful - I can't wait to see your pysanky!

Hi Nic - thank you! It's one of those things that is so familiar I take it for granted, but you're right - it is beautiful.

Hi Stephanie - good! We still have those wafers on occasion and it's funny - I revert to my old ways when given one. Were you ever told you could not chew the host? Of course, it's not possible to eat the bread without chewing, but whenever I'm given a wafer I still am careful not to chew it.

Hi Michelle! I actually came across a church's website with pictures of them making wafers - take a look at this. They're making oplatky - special Christmas wafers that are a Polish tradition - and they turn the broken ones into communion wafers. Now that's cool!

Stephanie said...

Absolutely!

I just kind of let it sit there, and waited for it to dissolve...ah, those were the days.

ulanmaya said...

hello... i've been looking for the recipe for the catholic communion wheat bread for a while now and in this post of yours, it says you just needed all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and water. i was wondering, what are the portions of each? to make the eight loaves.

thanks for posting this. i'm an avid blogger myself, almost too avid, i think. you have a wonderful blog about cooking and food - may i link it to mine?

Cathy said...

Hi ulanmaya! the amounts are: 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 1/3 cups white flour, and 2 1/4 cups warm water. I have kitchen scale and have found it's even easier to weigh the ingredients. I just plunk the mixing bowl on the scale and zero and weigh it in there. The whole wheat flour is 540g and the white flour is 170g.

Thanks for you kind words! You certainly may link to my blog - thank you!

ulanmaya said...

hi again, cathy - i was wondering how long you bake it and what temperature?

thanks for your response. :-) i've linked your blog.

Cathy said...

Hi unlanmaya - sorry! You bake it for 15 to 18 minutes at 450 F. To summarize the rest of the instructions briefly, you mix the flours together, stir in the water, knead for about 5 minutes, let rest for about 5 minutes, shape (each loaf is about 3 1/4 inches in diameter), and bake.

ulanmaya said...

awesome! i'll blog pix when i've baked some bread this weekend. thanks again so much.

Rebecca said...

This is wonderful. My family has been taking communion for years at church with the wafers. But this year I decided to make by own and celebrate at home as well. Thank you for having this available.

diane said...

Hi! My name is Diane. My search is for my huband who has cancer and is on alkaline diet. Heis not supossed to eat white flour or yeast to help make this work. So I am looking for recipes that will help with his diet and I do well with most cooking. I am hoping to find a recipe to balance his diet with bread made with white free flour. If anyone has a clue I would appriecticate any recipes.

Jeff said...

Excellent article.
I've been trying to learn about the different kinds of communion bread and slightly frustrated by the wafers. I wonder what those wafers are made of.

I know of a type of communion bread that looks like the kind in your recipe (the color of gingerbread, I guess). Nice and crispy, so people just pass it along and break off a relatively perforated piece neatly.

Cathy said...

Hi Jeff - thanks so much! My assumption is that at least some of those wafers are made simply from wheat flour and water. I believe the Catholic church mandates that the bread (including wafers) be unleavened wheat bread.

Anonymous said...

We bake bread like this at our church too. There are some differences; the recipe calls for some honey, oil, salt, baking pwoder and baking soda. I get about 12 flat rounds out of the recipe.

We just score it into small squares about 1/2 inch both ways.

After visiting other Catholic churches and tasting the wafers I realized how important the "real thing" was to me when I take communion.

Thanks for your website, and to all who posted. I feel connected to eucharistic bread makers across the country now!

Megan

Cathy said...

Hi Megan - that's interesting that your recipe has leavening in it, and that it has honey in it. I could have sworn the bread used at the church I attended as a child had honey or some other sweetener in it.

Betty said...

Hi, Cathy! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe and how to score the little loaves. I am the Team Leader for the Communion Ministry in our Protestant church. I have gathered from some of the comments that you are Catholic? Or at least of a denomination whose practices vary considerably from ours.

However, we are exploring ways to make worship more meaningful. Communion was a pretty rare thing in my denomination when I was growing up. When we did have it, it was either with the little round, tasteless wafers or the little, equally tasteless squares. In recent years, more of our churches have begun having Communion at least once a month and the bread varies. Some even use leavened bread.

I'm kind of on the borderline on the bread. I have taken Communion using a variety of breads and crackers. I know the reason for the unleavened bread, but it doesn't bother me a whole lot if it is leavened. I don't know, though, if there might be some in our congregation who have strong feelings about it.

When I first took on the responsibility of this ministry, they were using broken up soda crackers. I wasn't too keen on that! So, I began to search for some other kind of bread. We often take Communion by "intinction" and some breads leave "floaties" in the cup, not to mention crumbs all over the floor! Our worship pastor didn't like that!

I was thrilled to find your site and the information about the bread. I made it last month (a couple of days ahead) and found that it became very, very tough by the time I got to church on Sunday. I hear there were quite a few complaints and I even had one this morning who wanted the wafers! But, I have been experimenting this week and came up with a bread that is more tender, but still unleavened. I had many positive comments on it after the service.

The problem is I had to make it late last night or it would have become tough again, though not as much as last month's. I am wondering how long before your service do you make your bread? How do you store it? That seems to be key. I took mine out of the oven last night just before going to bed and let it cool overnight. It was tender and good this morning. I had been sampling batches as I played with the recipe so I knew if it sat too long, it would get a bit chewy even with my efforts to add oil and eggs for a more tender bread.

Sorry to go on so long! Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. My recipe is still a bit experimental, but I'll be glad to share what I've come up with if you or others would like.

Cathy said...

Hi Betty! I usually let the bread sit out just until it is room temperature (an hour or two). Actually, sometimes I'm rushed and I pack it up while it's still slightly warm. Our masses are Saturday evening and Sunday morning and they ask that we drop off the bread in time for the Saturday evening service. I usually make it earlier in the day on Saturday. I wrap four loaves separated by wax paper in foil and then put the two foil bundles in a plastic bag. The bread can be frozen, though I haven't (knowingly) tried any after it's been frozen, so I don't know how or if the texture changes after freezing. I've occasionally had a piece at communion that is a little dry or tough, but usually it seems pretty fresh, so maybe most of the others also make it on Saturday.

Yes, I am Catholic. I'm not at liberty to modify the recipe I use, but perhaps others would be interested in your recipe, so feel free to leave it in the comments. Good luck with your experiments!

Anonymous said...

this is all very nice but unleavened bread is likely what Christ used. If you are a Catholic, thats the only time of bread that is valid to use- no sugar, no raisins, no crackers, no honey etc. That would make the sacrifice completely INVALID!!!!

SouthernLassGA said...

I was watching a Catholic priest speak on TV tonight about the Eucharist/communion bread. He was appalled that so many churches use honey, sugar, vanilla, etc., in the bread and was adamant that it be made only from whole wheat flour and water. I came online to find the amounts of whole wheat flour and water to use, oven temperature, baking time, etc., but cannot find one single recipe using just whole wheat flour and water. Help!? And I'd be interested in hearing others' opinions on the ingredients. God Bless you all. :)

Cathy said...

Hi Southern Lass - my understanding is that the bread is to be made of wheat and water only (hence the controversy and difficulty for Catholics with Celiac disease) and that it must be unleavened. I'm pretty sure there's no requirement that it be whole wheat only. The Code of Canon Law 924 says, "The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling." The REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUM (a Vatican document which describes the liturgical norms for celebrating the Eucharist) is a little more explicit and states,"...bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament." and "It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist."

If you'd still prefer to use 100% whole wheat, I'd go ahead and use the recipe above and just replace the white flour with additional whole wheat flour. It will probably be firmer, but I expect it would work OK.

Beth said...

Hi Cathy! I enjoyed your post very much -- I, too, have been interested in different kinds of communion bread. I write a cooking column for my local newspaper, so I wrote a column about communion bread recently. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a communion wafer which is made by a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salem, VA. It was developed by her brother who is a priest in Newfoundland.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup HEAVY whipping cream
Stir together to pizza dough consistency. Divide into fifths. roll each fifth to wafer thinness. Cut into quarter-sized rounds. I use the inside of a doughnut cutter. Mark with a cross. Bake on cookie sheet at 360 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden.

Cathy said...

Hi Beth - thanks so much! I'll bet that those wafers taste pretty good - I've had biscuits made from similar ingredients. :) Rolling them so thin and cutting and marking them individually sounds like a lot of work - truly a labor of love!

Tasha said...

Hi Cathy,

I found this receipe last year on a google search. This will be the second year the children in our vacation bible school have made this bread for the "Chidlren's sunday" service at the end of VBS. The congregation is appreciative and the kids learn something about communion :)

Thanks for posting it!

Tasha

Cathy said...

Hi Tasha! That's wonderful to hear - thanks for letting me know!

Kricky's Krafy Korner said...

Cathy,

Never question your instincts. What I've learned about the internet is that someone is always interested! = )

I am making communion bread for the first time this Sunday. We are doing it for a special service, but you raise a good point. What a great ministry it would be to make bread each week and truly get back to grassroots.

I found your blog very interesting and it was the first thing I found after my internet search. I think your bread is beautiful and hope to make some like it!

Blessings!

aaronorear said...

Your bread looks great - I'm going to use that pattern next time I bake a batch! We're trying to introduce real bread, by using it at a mid-week mass. Slow but sure, since change is anathema to Anglicans.

On the subject of leaven...the leavened vs. unleavened issue was one of the inciting conflicts of the Great Schism between east and west that came to a head in 1054. Personally, I find it a bit silly (not to mention tragic) that the make-up of communion bread (an element in the church's greatest symbol of unity) can be such a source of division. See also the little girl who is allergic to gluten, as mentioned in an earlier comment. I suspect Jesus' reaction would be, "Yeah, OK, you seem to be missing the point..."

Cathy said...

Hi Kricky - thanks very much! Good luck with your special service and communion bread baking!

Hi Aaron - thanks! I agree, it seems like an odd detail to obsess over especially when it leads to exclusion rather than inclusion.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe and the lovely design. I'm eager to try it for my small house church. Every time I taste a hard, stale crumb at Communion I feel powerfully that it's hardly the Feast that Christ had in mind when he said "Take, Eat, this is my body." Since He was having a passover feast, perhaps those who long for dogma should research what they ate in the middle east 2000 years ago, or what ingredients Isrealites ate on the eve of their journey out of Egypt. They had honey back then (and beer...) Unleavened doesn't have to mean 'tastes horrible.'

Anonymous said...

I am researching bread recipes. Our church currently uses "crackers." I'm very excited about making some bread for our communion. The way you make your bread is so pretty! I would love to use this recipe, but am worried that the whole wheat flour will be rejected because of people with a gluten allergy. It only makes sense to me to use wheat flour! How do you get by this in a day that so many people seem to have a gluten allergy?

Abbey said...

I just googled "unleavened bread communion" and your blog popped up. I love the way your loaves look. I am making some for an upcoming wedding my husband is officiating instead of the little crackers! Thank you for posting.

FruitNut said...

Loved reading every one's comments!

Just an FYI: The Catholic Church was not abitrary in its decision to exclude anything beyond flour and water for communion breads. The First Eucharist (AKA The Last Supper), celebrated by Jesus with his disciples was a celebration of Passover, and therefore the bread he consecrated was a Passover bread that conformed to Jewish Dietary Law.

According to the Law, Passover bread (matzoh) may contain only grain and water. The addition of salt, oil, or sweeteners is permitted in other Kosher matzohs, but these may not be used for the celebration of the Passover meal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this recipe. In our church, we only bake communion bread for Holy Thursday. I used your recipe for the first time last year and it met with such success that the other sacristan will be using this recipe this year as well.
Have a Blessed Holy Week and Easter,
Cheryl
The Hague
The Netherlands

Bob Diamond said...

Hi, Cathy. I am a Christian writer. I was doing some research on unleavened bread and ran across your site. I am pleased that you have had a large number of comments. God bless your efforts. Bob

carrie said...

Cathy I was searching for a recipe for communion bread to make for my Sunday School children. I found a few that I liked sort of but then I came across your blog. I am going to use this recipe, I can see that it's made with such a labor of love and blessing that I know it's what I should use. Thank you for the work you do for His Kingdom.

Lane said...

Thank you for the wonderful information. I am seeking a church home as I have recently moved and was raised Church of Christ, so we had the stale cracker-shaped as our unleavened bread for our weekly communion. Your pictures are beautiful and such a great reflection you mention as you cut the portion that is similar to the cross. Thank you for taking the time to share the information and also the recipe. Very nice and helpful infomation!

Susie said...

Thank you very much Cathy!
I am excited to bake communion bread from this receipe for the very first time for my new church. After reading all the comments about allergies and such I am going to purpose a solution: use both this receipe and gluten free wafers such as both wine and juice are sometimes offered.

Ann said...

Cathy,

Thank you. I am going to give it a try and just as you I have left it to the last minute. What I found interesting is the 40 pieces. Did you attempt 40 pieces or is that what happened? Significant number. Love it and thank you for sharing your gift.

Peace.

Cathy said...

Hi Ann - I don't know the origin of the cutting pattern for the bread - so I don't know if it was intentionally devised to come up with 40 pieces, but yes - it's interesting that it does!

Anonymous said...

One minister said it took more faith to believe that those white wafers were bread than that they were the body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Cathy, I loved the information... however, for some reason, I can't figure out how the 8 loaves make fourty pieces. I see your design on the 4 cut outs, but I am confused, wondering if the 4 cuts outs are just a picture of 4 of the 40 peices?? Help!

Cathy said...

Hi Anon - each loaf is cut into 40 pieces, so with 8 loaves you actually end up with 320 pieces in total. If you look at the top photo, I'm holding one loaf - a large circle about 4 to 5 inches in diameter. The center has 4 pieces, the middle ring has 12 pieces, and the outer ring has 24 pieces. I bring the bread to church in loaves as you see in the photo, but during the mass the priest and eucharistic ministers break the loaves along the score lines into individual pieces. Hope that answers your question!

Jeff M said...

Hi Cathy, First let me say thanks for this post. I started looking for a communion bread recipe because, frankly, I felt the dry hard wafers we were using were insulting. I have made the bread for communion at our church for a coupe of years now using your recipe, but I have had to make adjustments. At 1/2" thick I found the bread to be too thick and hard to chew, so I tried using 1/2 of the recipe to make 6 loaves. This was still a bit chewy so I now use 1/2 the recipe to make 8 loaves. It is thinner, so I cut the cooking time to 10 to 12 minutes. Also, just to keep the bread from being so chokingly dry, I add 1 Tsp of honey and 1 Tsp of olive oil. This is not enough to make the bread sweet or light but it helps make the bread more palatable.

Betty said...

I can't believe how long it has been since I first found this site! I have been baking this bread for Communion, but with my modifications, all this time. I still get an occasional complaint about it being a little tough, but mostly it is well-liked by our congregation. In fact, it has been requested for special occasions where Communion was being served. Here is a link to a forum where I just reposted the recipe after a crash. (I hope I did that link right!) The recipe had been requested previously after a discussion about Communion bread so I thought it only appropriate that it be one of the first recipes posted after the crash. I do give credit and a link back to this site. Thanks again, Cathy, for the original recipe!

MelissaH said...

Thank you for this post! I've been trying to think of a creative way to cut the bread, and now I can stop. This is perfect! What a gift.

MelissaH said...

Thank you for this post! I've been looking for a creative way to cut and shape the bread for communion. Now I can stop looking. Thank you! What a gift.

Brennen said...

If this altar bread is for a catholic mass there may be a problem. Little things like adding oil to the pan could invalidate the whole mass and if the all perpouse four contains anything other than wheat flour ex. baking soda baking powder ect. then the consecration may be invalid. Just something to look into. Otherwise nice post.

Anonymous said...

As a lay Catholic minister and liturgist, I must comment regarding some errors I've seen posted here. While yes, canon law requires that the bread for Eucharist be made ONLY of wheat flour and water, the presence of another substance does NOT invalidate the celebration of Eucharist. The bread would be illicit, but the Mass valid.

I feel better now.

Anonymous said...

I must correct some errors!

As a lay Catholic minister and liturgist, let me assure you that the presence of honey, salt, etc does NOT invalidate the Mass. While it would make the breat illicit (it must only be wheat and water), the Mass is still valid in spite of illicit substance.

And please don't believe everything everyone says about the Catholic church...ask for credentials!

Gina said...

In the Lenten season I always seem to reflect upon my catholic school upbringing... I went to a small school affiliated with the catholic church in town. The students made the communion bread weekly for the church. I remember it vividly and often wonder why we have gone to the wafer. I have always wanted to make unleavened bread. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading your post, and I plan to make bread with my kids, thanks to your recipe. Maybe I will even go as far as to see if the youth group would like to make some for the parish. Thank you & God Bless you Cathy.

Gina said...

In the Lenten season I always seem to reflect upon my catholic school upbringing... I went to a small school affiliated with the catholic church in town. The students made the communion bread weekly for the church. I remember it vividly and often wonder why we have gone to the wafer. I have always wanted to make unleavened bread. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading your post, and I plan to make bread with my kids, thanks to your recipe. Maybe I will even go as far as to see if the youth group would like to make some for the parish. Thank you & God Bless you Cathy.

Angela said...

Thank you Cathy for sharing the Communion Bread recipe. I have been looking for this recipe for a long time. It is wonderful! God bless you.

Karol and Brian said...

Thank you so much for this post! Our Bishop is coming to visit this evening and I decided to make this bread for our Eucharist, I'm am hoping and praying that it works for me as well as it has for you. It is currently in the oven so fingers and toes crossed!!

Hildegard said...

We're trying to use gluten free bread for all communicants, so as not to differentiate. Have tried using gluten free flour (adding xanthan gum) instead of regular flour, but results are not so good. Any recipes for gluten free communion bread out there? Our loaves appear similar in size and shape to yours.

maryjune said...

we also have a need for "gluten free bread", so I pulled out myy grandmothers communion bread recipe and substituted sorgham flour, it is currently in the oven, so i'm waiting for results..but it's a small batch
2 T cooking oil
1T cold water
just enough flour to make a soft ball (I substituted sorgham flour)
Bake @ 350 just til done, do not let brown (it's still in oven I'm watching it after 9 minutes, good luck!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for following your heart and posting this! As you can see, almost six years later it is still found and appreciated! I now have baking communion bread for my church on my life-wish list. (I actually don't know what we use regularly, or where it comes from, but now I will find out!)

I grind wheat at home, so I can choose the flour I use precisely. I think soft white whole wheat berries will make a more tender loaf than the higher-gluten hard red wheat berries. Since the gluten is not needed to hold up the structure of rising bread. this should work out. If I give it a try I'll report back.

TeaMouse said...

Thanks for sharing your recipe! I have the honour of making the communion bread for our Holy Thursday Mass. Last year I used a different recipe, this one looks more authentic.

I have really tiny cutters, since we like the congregational communion pre-cut I think I'll cut them into little circles. It was hard to gauge the cutting last year, and someone intervened and they were just too teensy.

How many does one recipe provide for? We have a congregation size of 400 for this Mass.

I miss this type of communion bread, we lived in a place for a few years that always had homemade communion bread.

Julie Bruton said...

Thank you for posting. I attend a protestant church in Turkey and I wonder if we have used leavened bread because of the tradition passed down by the Eastern Church. Hmmm. I was looking for a unleavened bread recipe because church leaders have recently decided to use unleavened bread instead of leavened bread. Their reason for this is that Jesus was observing the Passover (which involved unleavened bread)when he told his disciples to "do this in rememberance of me." Also, leaven traditionally represents sin, and since Jesus says "this is my body", the unleavened bread represents the sinlessness of Christ. Turkey is 98% muslim and the wafers that are used in churches elsewhere are not available here. There is a tortilla-like bread, but it is not easy to tear. I really like the design of your recipe and look forward to trying it. Thank you for posting!

Jean said...

Bread looks great for communion bread. Do you have a recipe for unleavened bread to be eaten during 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus said we were to eat unleavened bread for 7 days. I need a bread recipe for the lunch my church is having during the 2 services on the last day of unleavened bread. Can this recipe be made up into bisquits or loaf or do you have a recipe I can use.

Sally said...

Kathy - I too make the communion bread at my Episcopal church. We use a recipe for St. Meinrad's mass bread. It does have oil and honey, but since we are not Catholic, that is not a concern. The bread ends up chewy, but not hard. We freeze the loaves in small plastic bags, then thaw them the day before or the morning of. They taste fine and are not changed by the freezing. If anyone is interested, I will post that recipe.

Joan said...

I have been making the bread for some time, but got very busy last year and they used prepackaged wafers the last couple times. They were white, small, and tasted like a piece of paper. Everyone HATES it. It doesn't have to be pleasurable, the cross certainly wasn't, but I look forward to going back to baking it. We use a pie crust recipe...no leavening. We score it and break it so that they know there will be enough pieces for each service and it doesn't get contaminated with many hands touching and pulling on it as in some services I've participated in. I so enjoy the beauty of your bread and the heart that goes into it. For me, that helps make it enjoyable...that someone just took the time to prepare it.

Jan said...

I attended a church where communion bread is made by the parishioners. To my great alarm I witnessed crumbs from the consecrated bread falling to the ground as communion was being administered to the faithful. Some of my friends who attended Mass at that same church later also experienced the same thing happening. As Catholics we believe that the whole of Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity, is present in the Eucharist once consecrated by the priest. Homemade bread presents a much greater danger of sacrilege. I am amazed that people prefer homemade bread over "wafers" just from the standpoint that "wafers" are much less likely to crumble and fall to the ground. See http://didobonaparte.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/a-homily-for-children-receiving-first-holy-communion/ for a beautiful explanation on the importance of treating Eucharistic bread with great reverance.

Anonymous said...

A note to the clergy reading this thread: I appreciate the distinction between 'licit' and 'valid' celebration of the Mass, but it would be helpful to note that behind the traditions of the various faith communities is (I hope!) a humble intention to celebrate the Eucharist as Jesus instituted it. This faith is as much obscured by emphasizing one's conformity to Canon Law as it is by relying on a post-service preference poll. Thank God that so many people express their faith by offering to bake bread for the Liturgy, and trust God to give them pastors who will guide them wisely.

The anecdote about the young woman missing her first Communion saddens me--perhaps there was more to the story? While people with mild allergy to gluten might be able to tolerate a very small fragment of the Host, I hope all of us are regularly assuring communicants with severe allergies that their Communion under the species of wine gives them all that Christ intends for them to receive in the Sacrament.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what size cutter would you need to make this look uniform... I sure like the pattern for them.

Amy said...

I am going to "attempt" to make this for our Annual Youth Service that's coming up on Sunday. Well wishes and prayers are welcomed!! :)