Friday, 7 November 2014

Sacramental Oven

Rosie recently showed me a web page about a bread oven in Nantwich Parish Church - we had just returned from Nantwich and were unable to go into the church as there was a funeral.  The oven was originally in Combermere Abbey where it was used to bake sacramental bread for the christian Eucharist.  This is an area that I have not covered on by bread pages.
I spent a morning researching the topic and discovered several recipes.  Most Christian Churches have a recipe and they are happy to share them and the context in which they are developed.
The basic recipe is to use whole wheat flour and water.  Mix it into a firm dough and roll out into a flat disc, thinner than your finger.  Prick out with a fork to prevent the unleavened bread from blowing and bake at 210 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.  The bread can be then broken into small pieces along the impressed lines.
Some more modern recipes use honey, salt, refining syrup and the like.  There are also wheat flour wafers available, but I do not consider them as bread by my definition, though the ingredients are the same (It is the symbolic gesture of the Communion that is important).
 A more traditional way of marking out the sacramental bread is to score circles and impress radial lines to give small shapes of similar size.
The bread can be broken up when it is baked and cool to be used in Communion.  An appropriate number off segments would be used and blessed by the priest, any blessed segments that are not used during the ceremony must be consumed by the priest after the communion.
From Medieval times, it is certain that monasteries abbeys and many churches would have had special arrangements to bake sacramental bread.  Very few examples of such ovens survive today.  I would like to be able to locate a few more examples.

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