As you know from my Sugar Pie post, I’ll do a lot of baking all at once to come up with just the right recipe. For the sugar pies, I made 5 pies in 3 days. When our neighborhood church decided to begin celebrating communion together, I signed up to bring the bread and put the same effort into this recipe search. I appreciate matzah and communion hosts and their convenience. And of course I know that the bread itself is not the point. But I have this memory from 2nd grade. We lived in the country in northeast Ohio and attended (as always) a Catholic Church (I can’t remember the name… it was an “Our Lady of…” something, but I’m not sure). I remember it vividly because it is where I made my First Communion. I remember wondering beforehand what the bread tasted like and then being pleasantly surprised. It was homemade bread, dense and obviously unleavened, but thick. It was grainy, but not crumbly and a little sweet. This was the bread I needed to share with my church family.
Overachiever that I am, I baked some bread. 7 recipes to be exact. Over a dozen loaves all in one day. The hubby and I did some tasting with friends. We even did a next-day taste test so I could tell you whether it could be baked ahead.
WARNING: This is going to be a lot of talk about bread. You should feel free to skip to the bottom and only read the two best. But just in case they aren’t the type you want, one of these others may float your boat.
7. This recipe included shortening. Predictably it tasted like a biscuit. It was flaky, bland, and drier the next day like a stale biscuit.
6. The next recipe contained olive oil. A lot of oil. It was soft to break, but sadly it was bland and dry. And kind of ugly. I wrote a big NO on the recipe. The upside was that it was still soft the next day, though still bland and dry.
5. Butter-based recipe this one is buttery. It had 3/4 of a stick of butter to only a half cup of flour. It was actually yellow. And the batter was pourable. It was a little crumbly, and the next day tasted really stale.
4. This cookie-like recipe was a little sweeter, a little crispier. I equated it to a cut-out cookie that needed frosting, which isn’t surprising since it is also based on butter. It has a stick of butter for a total of 2 cups of flour. It did not feel like bread, let alone one that should be used for communion. I didn’t take a picture… the link includes a lot of them.
3. This was a good recipe, but a little high-maintenance. There was not just sifting and mixing, but dissolving the honey in water and basting with butter and then egg. Also, beware… this recipe makes a LOT of bread. I made this bread two ways first exactly as the recipe was written and second with a little extra flour because the dough felt wet. If you choose this recipe, stick exactly to the recipe – NO extra flour. Lastly – DO NOT overbake. This bread gets tough fast, and even if it’s perfect, the next day it is even harder, even tougher. For these reasons it was not my favorite.
After this variety of recipes I just wasn’t sure I’d ever find the right recipe. So I put in a call to mom. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner – of course she also remembered the bread, and since she wasn’t 8 years old, she had a far better idea of the actual bread. She was pretty certain it only had flour and water. It couldn’t possibly be that simple. Could it? It was so sweet and nutty. I argued with her and she insisted. Back to my favorite search engine.
voila. the best two recipes.
2. Grainy and delicious! The wheat germ adds a grainy-ness that is great. My only flaw the first time was that I bought “honey” flavored wheat germ and it was a little too sweet (is that possible? for communion bread maybe). So go with regular wheat germ and it’s great. One bonus to this dough is that it can be made ahead and the dough (unbaked) can be kept in the fridge or freezer. This bread looks more rustic, more dense, and a darker color than some of the others. It’s also pretty easy – 5 ingredients.
1. My favorite. And the blog is written by someone named Cathy. That can’t be wrong. This one is also dark, tastes good, tastes good the next day and is simple to make. Super Simple. Crazy “why did I make 5 complicated loaves?” simple. This one is 3 ingredients. I actually replaced a little of the warm water with honey (by dissolving the honey into the water – keeping the quantity of liquid the same). It’s thick, but not hard, and her instructions give you the pretty design that easily breaks into 40 hearty pieces.