Fasting Breads

image.pngMedjugore BreadThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pastedgraphic.pngNo Knead Fasting Bread 
Fasting on bread and water has a long tradition in Catholic spirituality. It’s a personal devotion and goes back to Biblical times. A good spiritual discipline, fasting on bread and water is a way to connect with the meaning of Lent.
This is the topic Matt Swaim, Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio, talked about this morning. Fasting is trendy right now too! 
Before any fast, check with your health care professional. 
I’ve shared both of these recipes in other posts before but wanted to share them again in this particular context. 
I made 2 loaves, one in my cast iron Dutch oven (thats the classic recipe) and one on a baking pan for those of you who dont own a Dutch oven. Both turned out yummy.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
3/4 cup raisins, apricots, dates, cranberries or whatever dried fruit you like  
2 teaspoons salt 
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast 
1-1/2 cups warm water (holy water if you have it but be sure it’s kept in a separate, clean container)
2 tablespoons honey
Olive oil
In large bowl, whisk together flour, nuts, fruit, salt and yeast. Make well in center.
Mix water and honey, pour into well and stir until shaggy dough forms. 
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 12-24 hours. Mine proofed for 14 hours. Dough doubles with bubbles pushing through.
When ready to bake, put oven safe Dutch oven with lid (5-7 quart) into oven. Preheat to 450 degrees. 
While oven preheats, pour dough onto floured surface. 
Fold sides into center to form as smooth of a ball as you can. Dough is sticky. Work quickly with floured fingers so you dont deflate. Do not knead.
Put dough onto doubled piece of parchment.
Cut a cross in top to produce a Christian/Artisan look.
Brush olive oil carefully on top.
When oven is ready, pot and lid are very hot. Carefully remove lid with mitts. Using parchment as a sling, put dough into Dutch oven. Put lid on to develop steam.
Bake 20 minutes. Bread may look pale. Remove lid with mitts and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown and internal temperature is 200 or so degrees.
Remove bread, peel off parchment. (Parchment may be a bit scorched). 
Place on rack and cool 20  minutes.
No Dutch oven? 
When preheating oven, place cake pan on bottom rack. Fill with very hot water. This makes steam to form a crusty bread. 
Place parchment with dough on baking pan. Bake 30-35 minutes on center rack until bread is golden brown and internal temperature is 200 or so degrees. This bakes up darker than Dutch oven bread. 
Change it up!
Use any dried fruit and/or nuts.
Keeps at room temperature, covered, 3 days. In refrigerator, up to a week and in freezer, up to 3 months.

Adapted from a medjugorje.orgrecipe from Sr. Emmanuels’ book “Healing through Fasting”. Really hearty and sustaining. This bread is dense with a thick crust. The flavor is fairly “wheaty” with a touch of sweetness from the honey and fruit.
I’ve changed the recipe up a bit to let it rise before shaping. This gives for a lighter textured (though a still dense) bread. 

This made 3 medium loaves. 
If possible, use holy water and blessed salt for the recipe. Now remember, holy water, like any water, should be fresh. As Matt said this morning, don’t use blessed water from your font that has been sitting around! I have my priest bless a jug of water, which I keep in the refrigerator. 
3 cups white flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups raisins, fresh chopped apple, chopped dried apricots, figs, cherries, etc. (this time I used dried cherries)
1 generous cup almonds, walnuts or whatever nuts you have on hand
1 tablespoon active dry yeast 
½ cup of warm water, 105-115 to proof yeast
2 cups of very hot water or more if needed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup honey 
3 tablespoons butter
1 beaten egg
Melted butter for brushing on top
Oats, sesame seeds, poppy seeds for sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 375.
Blend flours, salt, fruit and nuts in a large bowl. (Blending fruit and nuts into flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom during baking).
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and let sit until it foams up, a few minutes.
Mix together hot water, honey, oil, butter and egg.
Pour into flour mixture along with yeast mixture and mix well. 
Dump out onto floured surface and knead several minutes until bread feels a bit like a baby’s bottom, smooth and soft.
Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, up to 1 hour.
Punch dough down, then divide.
Divide into 3 portions and shape each into a ball.
Place on sprayed parchment lined cookie sheets. I made mounds about 5” across and 1-1/2” or so high. 
Flatten a tiny bit and then cut a cross into each.
Brush all over with melted butter and then, if you want, sprinkle with toppings or leave plain.
Cover with a towel or plastic wrap just tented over it and let it rise until doubled in size, 45-60. minutes. You’ll know it has risen enough when you poke a finger in it gently and the indentation stay
Bake on center rack of oven 30 minutes or so, until skewer inserted deep into center comes out clean.
Let cool and enjoy!
Freezes well
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. 
Yeast– unifying many parts into one; a symbol of the the kingdom of heaven and of the Church.
Salt – Christ said to his Apostles: “You are the salt of the earth.”
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 is used by the Church in the Holy Oils applied in sacramental anointing.
Honey – When honey is warmed up, it flows easily. A reminder of how Jesus’ blood flowed on the cross. 
Holy Water – Holy water carries a blessing just by its use and when introduced with the sign of the cross how could this not be an ingredient of fasting bread for lent?
Fruits and nuts – Found in abundance from prolific trees are reminders of Christ’s command to go forth and “produce good fruit;” Like the fruit of good works and fasting during Lent. Jn 15:16



6 thoughts on “Fasting Breads

  1. Sounds like a great opportunity for catholic families to share in the Lent commemoration of Christ’s redemption of sinful souls. Preparing a fasting loaf or bread & sharing the spiritual significance can cement & personify the reality of our journey through the struggles of the salvation phase of existence which God the Father revealed to us through His Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Thank you for sharing with fellow repentant Lenten sinners.


  2. I’ve never made bread before so forgive me for this silly question – after mixing everything together does it need to rise before baking?


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