Sunday, January 4, 2009

Communion Bread - No Crumbs

Five or six years ago, I became the chair of the bread committee for Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. We do communion by intinction in which you break a piece of bread from the loaf and dip it in the cup. The charge from the worship committee was that they would like me to find a recipe that would not leave the church floor littered with crumbs and multitudes of crumbs floating in the communion cup.

I headed for the Internet and found two recipes that I combined for our communion bread with no crumbs. One was from a church in California: St. Jude the Apostle Episcopal Church and the second was from All Saints Episcopal School in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Here's the recipe we use:

1 pkg active dry yeast (about 1 scant T)
2 cups lukewarm water
pinch of sugar

2 T white sugar
3 cups white bread flour
2 tsp salt

1/2 cup hot water
3 T shortening (or 3/8 stick margarine)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp malt barley (can be found at Whole Foods) or you can use real vanilla

3 - 4 cups whole wheat flour

Soften yeast for about ten minutes in the warm water with a pinch of sugar in a large mixing bowl. When it begins to work (gets bubbly), add white sugar, white flour and salt. Beat smooth. Cover and set in a warm place until "spongy" - usually about 30 minutes or so.

Bring hot water almost to a boil. Add shortening, brown sugar, and malt barley. Cool to lukewarm and add to sponge

Add whole wheat flour. Mix as smooth as you can

Turn dough out onto floured board to rest for about 10 minutes

Knead. As you knead, add little flour since the dough will be gooey at first. Kneading is the process that develops the gluten in the bread so knead for at least 10 minutes. Well-developed gluten is one of the keys to NO CRUMBS. If you are kneading with your mixer, also knead on the counter to assure good gluten development.

Cover and let rise in lightly oiled bowl until doubled in volume. Punch down, kenad lightly for a minute or two and turn out on kneading board. Divide dough into three equal parts. Shape in oval loaves. Put onto greased cookie sheet or parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Cover.

Let rise about 30 minutes in a warm place. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the crust sounds hollow. I often cut a cross into the top of each loaf with a serrated knife (about 1/4 inch deep) before baking.

My grandson was here and helped me make a double recipe of the communion bread. He loves to knead and was again in his role as "chief kneader."

Only a grandmother could fully appreciate his little handprint in the bread after his turn kneading.

He put the dough in the pan to rise.
Below are the six loaves (two recipes worth) bagged to take to church this morning.

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