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Bake Altar Bread for Good Friday & Easter

You are invited to make altar bread for Good Friday and Easter!
Even if you are not an experienced bread-baker, this recipe is for you – it is simple and requires no kneading.  
This prayerful exercise is also a great activity to do with children.
Once you've made your bread, bring it to the Trinity sacristy during any of the major Holy Week liturgies, and it will be consecrated for the Good Friday and / or Easter Sunday liturgies.
 

Trinity Altar Bread

Yield: several large (approx. 6”) loaves for a total of 16.

Bring the cooled bread (placed in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel to control moisture) to the Trinity Sacristy during the major Holy Week Liturgies, and it will be consecrated on Maundy Thursday and / or Easter Sunday.  Please do not bring bread made by another recipe.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

1. Sift together into a large bowl:

8 cups whole wheat flour

8 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons salt

2. Mix together:

1 cup milk

1 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or other light oil)

1 cup water

16 oz. honey (1 small jar)

3. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and mix till thoroughly blended.  

Dough should be stiff and moist, but not sticky.

4. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead briefly.

Add more flour as you knead, so that the dough can roll out easily without sticking

For ease of handling, divide into two portions and work one at a time.

5. Roll out the dough on lightly floured board to the thickness of a cookie, a pinkie thickness or less.

6. Cut into rounds of appropriate size, no larger than 6 1/2” diameter. 

A medium-size tupperware bowl turned upside down works great.

7. Incise with cross, using sharp, thin knife dipped in cool water.

8. Place on a heavy, light-colored, oiled cookie sheet and bake at 400° F for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven’s temperature. 

Bake the dough just long enough to release it from the pan; it should not be too browned on the bottom – like a lightly baked cookie.  If it moves it’s done.

9. Cool loaves on wire rack and wrap well before refrigerating or bagging. 

Questions? Email Emily Wachner at ewachner@trinitywallstreet.org

Some advice from previous bakers:

Practice! Don’t expect your first batch to be ready for prime time. You, your oven, and your kitchen all bring something to the process, so sort that out before you forge ahead to make the loaves to be used on the Altar for Easter morning when the Bishop is there and the sanctuary is full. Besides, the birds will find your ‘practice runs’ to be a special treat!

Before rolling out the dough, divide it into four portions rather than just two. You may find it easier to work with less dough on your kitchen counter.

Try to roll the dough as evenly as possible and try rolling to 1/4” rather than 3/8” – experiment with different size rounds and depths, so that you can find the combination that works for you and your oven.

Don’t incise the cross too deeply & don’t drag the knife across the dough, rather lay it on top and lightly imprint the dough with the knife.

Rather than a greasing the cookie sheet, parchment paper works well and does save the effort of cleanup. Also, ‘airbake’ cookie sheets help to keep the bottoms from getting too dark.

The goal in baking is to get a lightly golden brown top, but not toasted. You should find that once the bread has cooled and you break it apart, it is moist and slightly sweet inside.

The loaves can be frozen in tightly sealed containers (such as Ziploc freezer bags) well in advance. Allow 24 hours for them to defrost so that they are room temperature at the time of the service.

Finally, remember that these aren’t just any loaves, but rather they will be made sacred when they are consecrated at the Eucharist. As you go along, take the time to notice the smells, textures, and colors of the dough and loaves. The process of preparing them is both mundane and holy and it involves all your senses. It is a very special way of sharing in the liturgical and spiritual life of this community.

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