Our Daily Bread

We recently observed Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot). I suppose studying what the Bible has to say about bread is an obvious topic after that, but it’s been a more interesting study than I’d expected for something that seems so basic. Even the Lord’s model prayer that so many of us memorize talks about bread, and it has more to say on that topic than I’d assumed. Bread also acts as a spiritual symbol in scripture–Jesus calls Himself the “Bread of Life” and Paul talks about what kind of bread we’re supposed to be.

Bread for Each Day

So pray this way:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored,
may your kingdom come,
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13, NET

The phrase “our daily bread” involves a curious word. In Greek, “daily” is epiousios (G1967) and it’s only used here and in Luke’s account of this same prayer. It’s not even used outside of the Bible anywhere but other “early Christian literature,” which makes the meaning hard to figure out (NET footnote). “Daily” is just a best-guess for the translation. Other suggestions include “the coming day,” “for existence” (NET footnote), “the bread of our necessity,” and “the bread that suffices for each day” (Thayer’s dictionary).

I wonder if, in using a word that indicated sufficient, needed bread for each day, Jesus might have been thinking about Proverbs 30. Here, Agur asks for two things from God: “Remove falsehood and lies far from me; do not give me poverty or riches” (Prov. 30:7-8, NET). This last one might seem an odd request–who wouldn’t want to be rich?–and Agur provides further details.

feed me with my allotted portion of bread,
lest I become satisfied and act deceptively
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I become poor and steal
and demean the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9, NET

It seems there’s as much of a danger in feeling as if you are “rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing” (to quote the Laodiceans from Revelation 3) as there is in being so poverty stricken that you’re in danger of starving. Neither extreme is healthy, and so balance in prosperity is a prayer worth praying. We need balance–both in the physical things like Agur is talking about and in the spiritual things that Jesus is talking about in the letter to Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22).

I usually think of the request in the model prayer as asking for provision of needs, with bread standing in for all the things like food and clothing that Jesus tells us we don’t need to worry about just a little later in this same sermon (Matt. 6:25-34). I recently heard someone point out, though, that the focus of this prayer isn’t on physical things. It’s about honoring God’s name, praying for His will and His kingdom, and asking for forgiveness and deliverance. There’s no reason not to assume physical provision is included, but it’s likely that Jesus also intended for us to think about spiritual bread. He is, after all, the bread of life.

Living Bread from Heaven

After one of the loaves and fishes miracles (recorded in John 6), Jesus crossed over to the other side of a lake and the whole multitude followed Him. There, He told them they’d followed Him not because they believed He was the Messiah or because they saw miracles, but because they’d eaten a free meal. He advised them, “Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life” (John 6:27, NET). To work for this eternal food, they must do “the deed God requires—to believe in the one whom he sent” (6:29). Then, these same people who’d just seen Jesus turn five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food for more than 5,000 people with 12 baskets full of leftovers, actually asked Him, “what miraculous sign will you perform, so that we may see it and believe you?” They even brought up the manna in the wilderness miracle, showing full well that they knew they’d seen one bread miracle and were asking for another (John 6:30-31).

Jesus and His Father weren’t focused on delivering physical bread this time, though. There wasn’t going to be a repeat of free food on the ground every morning when the Israelites woke up (Ex. 16:4-36). Rather, they’d planned a far more enduring way to satisfy a deeper, spiritual hunger. Yes, Jesus fed the people when they were hungry but the plan was to go far beyond providing for physical needs. Just as Jesus was here on earth to take the Law and the Covenants to a deeper, higher, fuller level, He did the same thing with the miracle of bread from heaven.

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. … the one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

John 6:48-51, 54-55, NET

This brings us right back to where we started this post: Passover and Unleavened Bread. Jesus’s flesh is symbolized by the bread and His blood by the wine that form the core symbols of the New Covenant Passover (Matt. 26:26-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). The invitation for us to eat this bread from heaven is also an invitation to be part of His covenant community and be sustained by God.

Our Unleavened Lives

Grace and salvation through Jesus Christ are gifts that we can do nothing to earn. Once we accept those gifts, though, we enter a reciprocal covenant relationship with God. We are supposed to respond a certain way after we’ve received grace. In other words, it is because of the Bread of Life that we ourselves can take on the characteristics of a very particular kind of bread.

Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let’s keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Cor. 5:7-8, WEB

Because we “eat” the Bread of Life, we become “unleavened” bread. Symbolically during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, leaven represents sin. Eating unleavened bread for that seven-day festival pictures us putting sin out of our lives and replacing it with His character. During the remaining days of the year, though we are free to eat yeasted and otherwise leavened breads, the importance of turning to God to fill all our needs (including our need to daily take-in Jesus Christ) remains the same.

God is concerned about our physical needs. He appreciates it when we choose not to fret about where we’ll get our physical daily bread and instead ask Him to provide (as Jesus did in His model prayer), trusting that He can and will take care of us. Even more than that, though, He is concerned about supplying our spiritual needs because that has eternal ramifications. We also ought to pray for God to “give us today our daily Bread of Life,” trusting that He will satisfy our spiritual hunger.

Featured image by FotoshopTofs from Pixabay

The Easiest No-Knead Bread

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.comMy new favorite bread recipe comes from alexandracooks.com. Be sure to click over there and visit her recipe, since she has lots of tips for making this turn out just-right, as well as several variations that I haven’t tried working with yet. What I’m posting today focuses on making one peasant loaf and one faux focaccia loaf.

This bread is incredible easy to make, but you do have to plan ahead. I need about three hours between the time you start the bread to the time when you can eat it.

Announcement: I’m planning some changes to this blog to focus on providing more useful resources for my readers. My posts on type psychology have been the ones people consistently comment on as being the most helpful, so I want to focus on that while continuing to write my Christian articles and introducing homeschooling resources for teaching high-school English. With all these changes, I’m most likely going to be phasing-out these weekly recipe posts or moving them to a different blogging platform (unless you all REALLY want me to keep them, in which case they’ll probably be less frequent).

Easy No-Knead Bread

2 cups lukewarm water (110–120° F)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons active-dry yeast

4 cups flour (3 cups all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)

2 teaspoons salt

room temperature butter, about 1 tablespoon

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon parsley

1 clove garlic, diced

coarse sea salt

Dissolve the sugar into the water in a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over top, then let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture is foamy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, stir it up. Mix the yeast mixture into the flour until it forms a soft dough.

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.com
before rising

Cover the bowl with a tea towel run under hot water and rung out so it is slightly damp. Set it aside in a warm spot to rise for about one-and-a-half hours.

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.com
after rising

Grease one oven-safe bowl or a medium casserole dish and one 9-inch by 9-inch baking dish. Use 1/2 tablespoon of butter for each. Using two forks, punch down the dough and scrape it from the sides of the bowl, turning the dough over on itself. Using the two forks, pull the dough apart into the equal portions and then scoop one into each baking dish.

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.com
dividing the dough

The peasant loaf, the one in the bowl or casserole dish, is now done. For the faux focaccia, mix 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon parsley, and 1 clove diced garlic. Spread the dough out with your fingers to fit the shape of the pan, then dip your fingers in the olive oil mixture and press the top of the dough to make dimples in the surface. Spread the remainder of the olive oil mixture on top of the bread, and then sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt.

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.com
right before the second rising

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Let the dough rise for about 20 to 30 minutes, then bake for 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375ºF and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks.

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.com
cooling

Brush the top of the peasant loaf with butter. Let the loaves cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.

Easy No-Knead Bread | marissabaker.wordpress.com
aren’t they lovely?

 

Lemon Quick Bread

Lemon Quick Bread recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com

I posted a form of this bread before — trying to turn it into a lemon-almond loaf — but it’s this version that I keep going back to when I want to make a lemony quick bread. This bread has a light lemon flavor — not too sweet, not too lemony. When you bake it, it almost develops a glaze on the top. The original recipe baked it in one loaf pan, but I was having trouble getting it to cook through without burning the edges, and then the center of the bread got squishy. Baking it in two pans, or four mini-loaf pans as I did here, or seems to do the trick.

Lemon Quick Bread

Lemon Quick Bread recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.comprint this recipe

3 cups flour

1, 3.5-ounce box lemon flavor instant pudding

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups milk

Lemon Quick Bread recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com2 eggs, lightly beaten

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

Mix together flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. In large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and butter. Add vanilla and lemon and mix well. Add the flour mixture, along with poppy seeds. Mix until just combined.Lemon Quick Bread recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com

Grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans, or four mini-loaf pans. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Allow loaves to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan to finish cooling on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

Lemon Quick Bread recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com
ta-da!

No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls

No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it’s the only cinnamon roll recipe I make now. It’s originally from a blog called pReCiouS MoMentS. I’ve changed measurements that were in grams to cups or tablespoons, to make it easier to American cooks to follow. I also changed the scalding instructions — I wanted an exact temperature to aim for so I didn’t scorch the milk or kill the yeast, and it takes much less than an hour for my milk to cool to the right temperature. My rolls also have less filling, and I’ve added a glaze.

No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls

No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com
first round of ingredients ready

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Dough

1 cup milk

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon yeast

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole-wheat flour

No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com
Scald at 150 degrees Fahrenheit

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon milk

No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com
dough before rising for the first time

Mix milk, sugar and vegetable oil in a pan. Scald by heating to 150°F. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes, or until the temperatures is between 105°F and 115°F. Sprinkle yeast over the scaled mixture and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups flour in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add scalded mixture. Stir with a spatula until it comes together to form a thick batter. Cover and let the batter sit for at least 1 hour.

No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com
I was probably cutting them a little less than 1-inch thick. You could also just cut it into 20 equal size slices.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until the mixture comes together. Rolls can be made now, or covered and chilled until needed. Dough will be easier to work with if chilled.

When ready to make the rolls, mix ground cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Dust the work surface and the top and bottom of dough freely with flour. Roll out the dough into a thin, rectangular shape. Dust the dough and work surface with flour when necessary.

Brush the rolled out dough with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the surface. Roll the dough neatly in a line towards you, rolling as tightly as possible. Pinch the seams to seal.

No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe, marissabaker.wordpress.com
Top image: rolls before rising. Bottom image: rolls after rising. The size change isn’t really noticeable until after baking

Cut into 1-inch thick slices and arrange in a baking pan greased with butter. Use one 9×13-inch baking pan, or two 8×8-inch baking pans. Place the rolls close together so that they are almost touching.

Cover and leave to rise for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the rolls double in size. Rolls can be left to chill in the fridge over night and baked the next morning. If rolls have doubled in size in the refrigerator, bake right away. Otherwise leave to sit on counter until they double. Bake in preheated oven at 375°F for 12-16 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let rolls cool on the counter. Mix glaze ingredients and drizzle over cooled rolls.

Lemon Almond Bread

Lemon Almond bread recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
Lemon Almond Bread

While visiting a friend is Wisconsin, I was introduced to an amazing almond lemon bread with some kind of glaze. It reminded me a little of the lemon bread recipe I’ve used a few times, so I decided I’d try to alter that recipe to match the almond lemon bread. The recipe I’m sharing today is my first experiment. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it has a good flavor. I think my next step will be to add extra almond, maybe some lemon juice to make it more moist, and change the glaze a little. This glaze is very lemon-y right now, especially if you try to eat the bread right after glazing instead of waiting until the next day.

Lemon Almond Bread

Lemon Almond bread recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
same bread, different lighting

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3 cups flour

1, 3.5-ounce box lemon flavor instant pudding

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

6 Tablespoons butter, melted

Lemon Almond bread recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
cooling on a wire rack

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

¼ cup powder sugar

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

Mix together flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl mix together the milk, eggs, and butter. Stir in extracts and mix well. Add flour mixture, along with poppy seeds. Mix until just combined.

Lemon Almond bread recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
freshly glazed

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow loaf to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan to finish cooling on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix powder sugar and lemon juice. Brush glaze over fully cooled loaves.

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Easy Bread Sticks

Easy breadsticks recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
bread sticks fresh from the oven

Summer weather has returned with the promise of a week’s worth of 90 degree temperatures, so I’m not baking much of anything this week. Thankfully, I took pictures last week when I made these wonderful garlic-covered bread sticks. The original recipe is from Readable Eatables’ Olive Garden Breadsticks. Her’s are so good that the only thing I’ve changed is melting more butter to brush over the top — three tablespoons just never seems like enough.

The best thing about this recipe is it consistently turns out well and there is no kneading — you don’t even take the dough out of the mixing bowl until it’s time to form the bread sticks. They taste great with pasta and salads, and I’m looking forward to serving them with soups this winter.

Easy Bread Sticks

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Easy breadsticks recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
This is what it will look like when there’s enough flour in the dough

Dough

1 ½ cups warm water

2 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon yeast

1 Tablespoon salt

2 Tablespoon butter, softened

4-5 Cups flour (I usually use 1 cup whole wheat, then about 2½-3 cups white)

Topping

5 Tablespoon butter melted

sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the dough, pour the water into a stand mixer with the sugar and yeast, let that sit and froth for about 10 minutes. Add salt, butter, and 2 cups of flour. Mix the dough on low. Add the rest of the flour a half cup at a time, until dough scrapes the sides of the bowl clean. Mix the dough about 5 minutes on medium speed, until its soft and easy to work with.

Easy breadsticks recipe marissabaker.wordpress.com
They’ll cook just fine if you crowd them a little to fit all the bread sticks on one pan

Let the dough rest in the bowl until doubled in size, about 1 hour, and then roll it out. Roll the dough out into a long log, spray a knife with cooking spray and cut the dough into 12-14 pieces. Roll those pieces into about 6 inch long snakes. Spray 1-2 large cookie sheets with cooking spray, and lay the bread sticks out leaving an inch or two between each one.

Place them in the oven with the temperature turned to 170 degrees. Let them rise for about 15 minutes, or until doubled in size. Alternately, they can rest on the counter until doubled in size. Once risen, brush them with the 2 Tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle them with salt.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake bread sticks for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. While they are baking, combine the rest of the melted butter with 1 tsp garlic powder. When the bread sticks are golden brown, remove them from the oven and brush them with the butter/garlic mixture. Serve warm.

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