Altar Bread Recipe

Monastery Altar Bread

from the Society of St. John the Evangelist

“Tastes yummy, freezes well, fractions nicely, and is not crumbly!”

Note: The leavening is baking powder; the sweetener is molasses or honey; and it contains milk.

HALF RECIPE (6 loaves) / FULL RECIPE (12 loaves)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together into a large bowl:
4 cups / 8 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons / 8 teaspoons baking powder      
2 teaspoons / 4 teaspoons salt

Mix together in a separate bowl:
½ cup / 1 cup milk (2%)
½ cup / 1 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or safflower)
½ cup / 1 cup water
6 oz / 12 oz   molasses OR 1 cup / 2 cups honey

Baking Instructions:

    1. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix till well blended; the dough should be stiff and moist, but not sticky.
    2. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly, using additional flour as necessary.
    3. For ease of handling (especially the full batch), divide into two portions and work with one at a time.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board, to about 3/8” thickness.
    4. Cut into rounds of appropriate size (no larger than 6 1/2” diameter).
    5. Mark with a cross, using a sharp, thin knife dipped in cool water.
    6. Place the rounds on cookie sheets – try using parchment paper; or oil the cookie sheets if you prefer.
    7. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. 210 degrees on instant-read thermometer.
    8. Cool the loaves on wire racks, and then wrap well before refrigerating or freezing.

Notes for Bakers:

  • Whole wheat flour needs to be stored in the fridge to prevent it tasting rancid.
  • Before rolling out the dough, shape the dough into 6 / 12 round balls.
  • Try to roll the dough as evenly as possible and try rolling to ¼” rather than 3/8” – experiment with different size rounds and depths, so that you can find the combination that works for you and your oven.
  • To make the cross, lay the knife, blade down, on top of each round and lightly imprint the dough with the knife.
  • After the loaves have cooled to room temperature (a couple hours), wrap each loaf in plastic wrap, then insert several loaves into Ziploc freezer bags. The plastic wrap provides additional protection from drying out, and also prevents the loaves from sticking together as they freeze.
  • Finally, remember that these aren’t just any loaves, but rather they will be made sacred when they are consecrated at the Eucharist. As you go along, take time to notice the smells, textures, and colors of the dough and loaves. The process of preparing them is both mundane and holy, and it involves all your senses. It is a very special way of sharing in the liturgical and spiritual life of our community.

Regular Sunday Schedule

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:15 a.m. worship.together (Eucharist for preschool families)
9:15 a.m. Parish Forum & Christian Education (Kairos)
10:30 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.

Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, Oct.-June, in the Church.

We would love to have you join us.


This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.

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