A couple years ago I ran across this recipe for Fasting Bread (originally from www.catholicradiodramas.com) at Catholic Family Vignettes. I just finished baking it for tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, which is a day of fast and abstinence. (You can read more about fast and abstinence at EWTN.) It took a little while to make, but my children and I really enjoyed the process and it was great to read about the symbolism attached to each of the ingredients.
(makes three loaves)
(makes three loaves)
3 1/2 cups Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
4 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast (updated)
2 cups Luke Warm Water
1/2 cup 100% Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Holy Water
1 cup Oats – soaked in 1/2 cup hot water for 2 minutes
1 cup Pecan or Walnut pieces – broken and skillet toasted 2 min
1 cup Dried Cherries or Raisins - soaked 5 min in 1/4 cup hot water
1. Combine the first three dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
2. Clear a small area in the center of the dry blend.
3. Add sugar, dry yeast, and the 2 cups of warm water. Let stand for 3 minutes until yeast proofs and forms bubbles. Combine with flour mixture and liquid. This will be thick but more liquid comes later.
4. Add maple syrup, olive oil and holy water. Stir mixture until well blended.
5. Add walnuts and/or pecans and raisins and/or cherries with their liquid.
6. Add soaked oats to the flour mixture.
7. Blend everything together in one bowl.
8. Turn out onto a floured board and knead by hand for 10-12 minutes adding more flour as needed to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead the dough by flattening somewhat and fold-in from the outside towards the center. Press down hard on the center. Rotate the bowl and repeat the process until smooth and elastic and forma “ball”
9. Return the “ball” to the mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil, cover and let rise 1 hour.
10. Remove to a floured board and kneed several more times as above. Cut into three equal pieces.
12. Slash loaf tops and bake in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until brown on top and bottom. Loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
13. Remove bread from pans and cool on a rack.
QUALITY INGREDIENTS AND THEIR SYMBOLIC REFERENCES: This marvelous bread combines pure, wholesome ingredients with symbolic references found in Sacred Scripture.
Stone Ground Wheat and Oats – Symbol of the pain of being crushed by the wheels of God’s Justice – which “grind slowly but exceedingly fine.” “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” Jn 12: 24
White Flour – a reminder of the manna given by God to the Hebrews during their forty years in the desert as Moses led them to the promised land. Manna foreshadowed the Holy Eucharist, also the called “Bread from Heaven”. Exodus 16:35 Jn 6:41
Yeast– unifying many parts into one; a symbol of the the kingdom of heaven and of the Church. Mt 13:33
Salt – Christ said to his Apostles: “You are the salt of the earth.” Mt 5:13
Water – Giving life to all things; a symbol of baptism; cleansing. Lenten penances aid the washing away our sins. “He who drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst.” Jn 4: 14
Olive Oil – Acclaimed throughout history as a source of strength, olive oil was used by the athletes of ancient Greece to prepare for them for the contests. Mixed with wine it was found useful in healing the wounds of those injured on the battlefields of medieval Europe. Olive oil is used by the Church in the Holy Oils applied in sacramental anointing.
Pure Maple Syrup – Collected in pure form flowing from a tree; symbolic of the cross and of the sweetness of the Blood of Christ which flowed freely from the tree of his cross, the tree of life; shed so that “sins may be forgiven.” A symbol of God’s love by making this sweet nutrient a gift to be discovered.
Holy Water – A sacramental used in blessings and bringing new life in Baptism. Holy water carries a blessing just by its use and when introduced with the sign of the cross how could this not be a must an key ingredient of fasting bread for lent?
Walnuts and Pecans and Cherries – These pleasant gifts found in abundance from prolific trees are reminders of Christ’s command to go forth and “produce good fruit;” They are reminders of our own call to perform works of charity, prayer, fasting and almsgiving; the fruit of good works to be undertaken during Lent. Jn 15:16
Raisins – Made from pure grapes, raisins are the fruit of the vine; a reminder of the miracle of water changed into wine at the wedding feast in Cana; of the wine changed into the Blood of Christ at the Last Supper and at the Consecration during Mass. These serve as reminders of that mystery where wine is described as the “fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our Spiritual Drink.”
Heavenly Father, Let us enter the season of Lent in the spirit of joy, giving ourselves to spiritual strife, cleansing our soul and body, controlling our passions, as we limit our food, living on the virtues of the Holy Spirit;
Let us persevere in our longing for Christ so as to be worthy to behold His most solemn Passion and the most holy Passover, rejoicing the while with spiritual joy. Amen.