Baking with a purpose

 Most of the time, I bake bread for selfish reasons.  I bake for my family and friends primarily.

But not today.  I mean, ok, it is for friends, but it’s more than that.

I’m baking communion bread for my church, Commonwealth Baptist Church.

Now, don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a super religious post.  I’m not really that religious anyway.  If you want to skip the next few paragraphs, scroll down past the line to get to the recipe.

But it is about gifts, spiritual and otherwise.

Right now at my church, I give a financial offering, I pick up and drop off one of the teens in our Sunday School program, and I help teach Sunday School.  These are things I do for the church, but I don’t think of them as things I am naturally called to do.

The bible talks about gifts provided by the Holy Spirit.  In our church we believe that these spiritual gifts translate into natural abilities or interests, and that they can help guide church members to give back to the church in their own way.

I am not gifted financially (ha!).  I definitely don’t feel like I have the gift of teaching.  I feel super awkward around kids, I don’t know all the tricks to make kids listen to me, and often my lessons and activities fall flat.

And I’m not the best baker ever.  But I love it.  And this love has inspired me to keep baking through all the failures, to the point where I may not have “natural” ability, but I do have ability.  Baking calms me down, it makes me feel accomplished, and it’s something that I can share with others.  When I couldn’t bake, I really missed it. 

I inquired two years ago about baking bread for communion but was told that there was another church member who included among her many contributions providing communion bread and had done so for many years.  A few weeks ago, I got word that this member was getting tired of doing it, and had delegated to the other leaders in the church to alternate bringing bread each month.  I saw my chance and asked the pastors if I could take on this responsibility.

So for my first attempt, I decided to make a basic sourdough.

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This recipe is loosely based on the 1-2-3 sourdough method, although I didn’t want to make it super sour.  I used commercial yeast and sourdough starter.

SOURDOUGH FOR COMMUNION BREAD

You will need:

375g of all-purpose and bread flour (about half and half of each)
250g of water, cold or lukewarm
1 tablespoon sourdough starter (optional)
1 teaspoon of commercial yeast
7g of salt

You will also need:
1 large bowl
a kitchen scale
a dutch oven with a lid
parchment paper

1. Mix everything together in a large bowl just until the flour and water are completely incorporated.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then gently form into a ball. 

2. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit overnight.

3. The next morning, you will find this:

4. Re-form into a ball by tucking the loose dough underneath so the top becomes a smooth surface.  You will notice that gluten has formed overnight, even though you didn’t do any kneading whatsoever.

5. Cut one large square of parchment paper and set your loaf on top.  Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise a second time, for about 45 minutes to an hour.

6. Preheat your oven to 450 F and put your dutch oven in the oven to warm up.

7. When the oven is ready, remove the plastic wrap from the dough and, using a sharp knife, score the top of the loaf.  Place the loaf and the parchment paper in the dutch oven, replace the lid, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

8.  After 25 minutes, remove the lid and bump the temperature down to 400.  Bake another 15 minutes or so, until the bread is hard and unyielding when you tap it with your fingernail.  Remove the bread from the dutch oven using the parchment paper and let it cool.

 9. Slice into tiny pieces and stick in a plastic zip-top bag.  Deliver to church on Sunday morning.

I will let you know how this goes!  I may try different breads like challah or honey wheat to mix it up.

Thanks for reading!

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