An earthy whole-wheat bread used for communion

In Pittsburgh and other Western Pennsylvania parishes of the Episcopal church, it is common to use small, thin loaves of real, fresh, home-made bread at communion instead of the pressed wafers popular in most other places. The bread has a chewy texture to it, keeps tremendously well, and makes a great lunchbox food (each "loaf" is about the size a large cookie). This recipe comes from Father Bill Coats of the Church of the Redeemer in Pittsburgh.


(8-10 single-serving loaves)


  1. Combine water and yeast in mixing bowl. Add honey, olive oil, and salt.
  2. Add flour. If flour does not completely dampen, add small amounts of water until all of the flour is damp. Be sparing with the water.
  3. Turn out onto a very lightly floured board, and knead thoroughly for 5 minutes until dough is extremely elastic.
  4. Sprinkle a tiny amount of olive oil in a big bowl, then roll the dough in it until the dough is covered with olive oil. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to Punch the dough down, knead again for a few seconds. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin, as if you were making a pizza crust, to a thickness of 1/4 inch
  6. Using something like a large peanut butter jar or a giant cookie cutter, cut out 4-inch circles of the dough and lift them onto a slightly-oiled baking sheet. Press a cross into the top surface of each, so that it can be easily broken apart.
  7. Bake the loaves, on their baking sheet, in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.


You can freeze these loaves easily; either put them in single-serving ziploc bags and use them for school lunches, or freeze a bunch in a large food-storage bag.


Difficulty: moderate.
Time: 15 minutes preparation, 2 hours rising, 10 minutes baking.
Precision: measure the ingredients.


Fr. Bill Coats 
Church of the Redeemer 
Pittsburgh, PA 
Recipe last modified: 1 Dec 78

Original header

From: reid@decwrl (Brian Reid)
Subject: RECIPE: Altar bread
Date: 30 Nov 85 10:39:06 GMT
Organization: DEC Western Research Lab, Palo Alto CA
Approved: reid@glacier.ARPA

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