Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our Daily Bread: Monastery Bread

My family enjoyed a recent visit with Papa Paul and Gwy (as Timmie is known to her grandchildren). I was thrilled to be apron-clad alongside my mother-in-law baking and breaking bread together.

Being an avid baker (something in my genes) I had yet to get over my irrational fear of baking with yeast. Silly I know, but the thought of working with something alive was rather daunting. Timmie rolled up her sleeves, insisted that we tackle the task together and assured me that both yeast and kneading were actually quite fun. I was in for a treat!

We opened A Continual Feast to page 247 and made Monastery Bread. It is a wonderfully simple recipe and therefore a particularly perfect first recipe for bread baking. If you have never tried to bake your own bread- this is a great start.

One cannot help but consider the opening of a yeast packet to be anti-climactic. Will those funny shaped brown specks really turn that bowl of flour into bread? Every time I prepare my bread dough I doubt, and every time the results excite and fascinate me.

What a glorious comparison Jesus makes in his parable of the leaven [Matthew (13:33-35) and Luke (13:20-21)]. The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and buried in three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened. What I particularly love about this passage is the hope and purpose it inspires in our own daily work. Our daily efforts are like those of the woman burying the leaven in the flour. Then God takes these efforts and -like the leaven- he can perform miracles from our seemingly mundane tasks. Our professional work (be it the work of a mother, a student, a doctor, a lawyer, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker) when united to God makes a powerful partnership. Through our daily efforts, we bury the leaven of our work and God makes it rise.

What a wonderful thought to consider while kneading our daily bread!


  1. That looks delicious--and there is just nothing like home-made bread!

  2. Thank you for this lovely post - simple on the surface but moving. Just like baking and breaking bread: we don't pay much attention to it, yet it is so symbolic! Or at least it should be in our hectic lives...

  3. Thanks for that point about burying the yeast/leaven!! I had never thought about it that way and it's particularly beautiful and appropriate when we think about Jesus' 'burial' allowing the kingdom of heaven to rise! Now, if I could just get over my fear of baking...!