“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.” - Ezekiel 4:9
As I wrote in previous posts, there are not necessarily any specific recipes all Christians include in their diets. For my recipe, I decided to tackle a bread, an often symbolic food in Christianity, and a recipe that is somewhat described in the Bible: Ezekiel bread.
Perhaps more associated with health food movements, Ezekiel bread gets its name from the Book of Ezekiel 4:9. As in the quote at the start of this post, God gives the prophet Ezekiel a recipe for a bread made of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, and millet that is meant to last many days.
Bread was in fact a staple for ancient Israelites, and was an important means of social bonding. Giving bread was a sign of hospitality and respect. The betrayal of someone who gave you bread – as Judas did to Jesus – was the ultimate treachery.
Bread is a prominent symbol within Christianity, from rituals like Passover, to the common prayer for daily bread, to the association of Jesus with bread. Bread is even mentioned in multiple passages in the Bible (as in Genesis 25:34 or Mark 8:14), but none are perhaps as specifically described as Ezekiel bread.
This particular translation I have cited above writes of the ingredients of Ezekiel bread as wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt. There are various modern interpretations of this as a recipe, often using some combination of these ingredients. Though other recipes might use all of these, I have used a recipe with cooked lentils and the flours of some of the grains.
Like other breads that require rising, this recipe is multi-step and does require some time, though not necessarily a lot of effort. Perhaps the most involved part of the recipe is the kneading (which I think has the potential to be more therapeutic than arduous!). I halved the original recipe, which yielded for me one 9×5 in loaf and 6 ‘rolls’ made in muffin tins, likely due to difficulties with getting the dough to rise. The halved ingredients and the adjustments I made due to availability are listed below.
Even though my dough did not rise as much as described, the process still yielded a hearty bread – perhaps a bit more dense than expected, but good nonetheless. It is distinctly multigrain, and is lovely served warm. I had success storing it in both the freezer and refrigerator, then defrosting or toasting. My favorite way to eat it was to top with butter and jam, or peanut butter, but it is also a great sandwich bread.
½ cup lentils (I used green)
1 package (.25 oz) active yeast
2.5 cups warm water*
2.5 T olive oil
1/2 T salt
½ T honey**
4 cups whole wheat flour***
2 cups oat flour***
1 cup spelt flour***
1/2 cup multigrain (millet-based) flour***
1/4 cup whole dark rye flour***
*You may have to adjust the amount of water and flour according to the consistency of your resulting dough.
**I also added slightly more honey to mine because of added flour.
*** Don’t be intimidated by the different types of flour! I found all of these in Burlington’s Co-op, City Market, for under $4 for the whole recipe – not bad when many Ezekiel loaves are priced at that. The flours are pretty adaptable too, as I substituted oat and spelt flours in place of others listed in the original recipe.
- Start by cooking the lentils uncovered in a small saucepan with 1 cup water. If water evaporates, just add enough so that the lentils are barely covered. Cook until soft, which should be about 20 minutes, and then drain and set aside to cool (placing in the refrigerator will speed this process).
- As the lentils cool, dissolve the package of yeast in ¼ cup warm water in a small bowl. Leave until creamy or foamy in appearance, about 10 minutes.
- Once the lentils are cooled, mash in a bowl (mortar and pestle would probably be most effective, though I fairly efficiently used a combination of a spoon and blender). Then mix in the olive oil, honey, salt and remaining 2 ¼ cups water. After, stir in the yeast mixture.
- In a different large bowl, mix together the flours.
- Beat in 2 cups of the flour mixture, then continue to add the flour 1 cup at the time. Beat well after each addition until dough has pulled together, then turn onto lightly floured surface, kneading until smooth, which for me was about 10 minutes.
- Lightly coat a fairly large bowl with oil. Place the kneaded dough in this bowl, and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to deflate and knead for a few minutes. Divide the dough into shapes that fit the pans you wish to bake them in, which should be 2 9×5 inch loaf pans, then place in those pans, lightly greased.
- Let stand another 40 minutes or so, until about doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F during this time.
- After the dough has doubled, bake loaves in preheated oven for a little more than an hour (about 30 minutes for the smaller rolls), or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
- After the loaves have cooled slightly, shake to ease removal from pan, and, when cool enough, remove from pan and let cool for cutting and storage.
Bergfeld, Mary. 2011 Ezekiel Bread: A Loaf of Biblical Proportions. http://oneperfectbite.blogspot.com/2011/07/ezekiel-bread-loaf-of-biblical.html#.UokaY6VDqzk
Garrett, Duane A. 1996 Bread, Bread of Presence. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/bread-bread-of-presence.html
George, Joe. 2011. Ezekiel Bread: My interpretation. http://www.urbansimplicity.com/2011/04/ezekiel-breadmy-interpretation.html
Winger, Jill. 2012 Make Your Own Ezekiel Bread. http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/11/