I love to bake because it reminds me of the baked goods Mom made when I was a child. Breads, cakes, cinnamon rolls and pies were the best ever when Mom made them. Of course, I may be a little biased but everyone I ever knew who tried Mom’s homemade goods loved them.
So learning to bake from her was really a privilege for me. I don’t think I come close to her baking but I like to think that I am on the right track at least.
Recently though I ended up with a challenge that I hadn’t really thought was going to be a challenge. I’ve baked rolls and cinnamon rolls for quite a few years, both with Mom and on my own. So when the church asked for bakers for communion bread I only hesitated briefly to make sure I’d have time to do so before I volunteered to be one of the new bakers.
Each baker handles four consecutive times in which the communion bread is needed and does so twice a year. So my first time was for three Sundays in March and Ash Wednesday. We were given a recipe and told how many pieces 1/2 inch by 1/2-inch square was needed. We would need about 200 pieces for each Sunday. The instructions said three batches would make enough for the four occasions.
This is unleavened bread so I didn’t have to let it raise. Instead it was mix the ingredients which included flour, both regular and whole wheat, honey, molasses, etc. Nothing too difficult from what I thought to myself. This should be quick and easy to do.
That was not to be my experience. Oh, sifting the flour and mixing up the ingredients was quick. The only adjustment I made was going from hand mixing the ingredients with a spoon, which left too much flour not incorporated into the overall dough, to mixing it in my Kitchen Aid mixer that produced a wonderful, slightly sticky dough. It also was able to incorporate all the flour into the dough.
The hard part was rolling the dough out so it was thin enough but not too thin and rolling it into a rectangle shape. My first attempt had me cutting away way too much of the edging because it had gotten too thin and therefore too crisp. There was also the fact that it looked like a freeform art project not a nice rectangular shape.
As each batch was made I did get slightly better at forming the rectangle and more uniform in the thickness of the dough, which meant less crispy edges to cut off. Sadly, though it took five batches for me to fulfill the needed amounts of squares, along with the small loaves. Each day needed one small 4-inch round loaf, scored to be easily broken. I tried to eyeball the size and thought I had done alright until the first Sunday and the pastor held the single loaf aloft during the sacraments. I sit more than halfway back in the pews and the loaf from my seat looked huge.
The voice in my head kept repeating, “Boy that’s a large loaf of bread. Even people with sight problems would be able to see that loaf from afar.” Obviously I was more than a little off on the size of that particular loaf. It was either too thick or more than the 4 -inch diameter it was supposed to be.
I am not on the schedule to bake again until fall but I’m seriously thinking of practicing a little before then. I’m hoping by next year I’ll have this the size and shape down pat but only time will tell.