at the monastery

I love to bake bread. Even more I love to give a loaf of bread to someone. The Passionist Nuns taught me how to bake bread and give it away. That is me in the picture with Sister Maria Grace. I lived and worked with the sisters for a while in the monastery.

Every time I bake bread…and my bread will never be as good as theirs…I think about my monastic family. I remember Mother telling me how to knead the bread and form it into loaves. How to know when they are ready to bake and remove from the oven. Their bread is the best I have ever eaten and they could make a lot of money selling it. But they give their bread away. Every now and then I get a box in the mail!

Today, when I make bread I remember what it felt like to be a part of a real family for the first time. I remember Jesus when I bake bread. His miracles then and now.  I remember that He is called the Bread of Life. For me, making bread is a spiritual exercise, an act of love. Prayer and love go into every loaf and these are things that I cannot keep to myself.

So here is my Wheat Bread recipe. It makes two loaves.

I use a bread machine to mix and rise the dough. Into the pan add 1&1/3 cup water, I egg and 3 ounces of molasses. Then add 1 pound bread flour, 7 ounces wheat flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons dry milk, 3 tablespoons wheat germ, 2 teaspoons ground flax-seed, 3 tablespoons shortening and 2 teaspoons yeast. Turn the machine to dough cycle and walk away.

No, not really. I check it several times to make sure the consistency is correct because humidity and temperature can change things up a bit. When it is ready I knead out the dough into two loaves and put them into two greased pans (or free form them) and wait for them to rise a second time. Usually 30 minutes. Preheat the over to 375 and place loaves in oven. After 15 minutes reduce heat to 350 and bake another 20 minutes.