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How to make bread from the time of the Bible

Zelda Caldwell - published on 06/16/20

A recipe for whole wheat flatbread that might have been served at the Last Supper

If the months-long coronavirus lockdown has had you making your own bread, you’ve discovered the joys of fresh out-of-the-oven loaves, the same pleasure enjoyed by your great-grandparents, before the advent of convenient but sad grocery store sandwich bread. Perhaps you are even ready for a new baking challenge — one that has you climbing even higher up the family tree. Why not try to make the same type of bread that people ate in biblical times?

Miriam Feinberg Vamosh, the author of Food at the Time of the Bible: From Adam’s Apple to the Last Supper, has studied the types of food mentioned in the Bible, and their likely sources, given what is available in the Holy Land. Her book is the culmination of that research — a guide to what people ate 3,000 years ago, complete with recipes for the reader to try in his or her own kitchen.

Vamosh created this recipe for “Biblical Whole Wheat Flatbread,” which was published in Hadassah Magazine, along with several other recipes for foods most likely enjoyed in biblical times. Vamosh, using ancient texts in addition to the Bible, notes that instead of yeast bakers used fermented fruit peel, from grapes and apples, to make the dough rise.

Let us know how it turns out! Read the interview with Vamosh in Hadassah Magazine, and check out Vamosh’s book here.

Biblical Whole Wheat Flatbread
Makes 11 flatbreads.

1/2-3/4 cup fresh grape juice

1/2-3/4 cup water as needed

5 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

  1. Combine all ingredients to make a dough.
  2. Knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more water If necessary to create a soft dough.
  3. Let rise overnight, to activate the natural yeast.
  4. Heat a dutch oven upside down over a hot burner.
  5. Divide dough into 11 parts, and roll into balls.
  6. Flatten balls with the palm of your hand, and roll out or stretch until very thin.
  7. Cook flatbreads for 2-3 minutes on both sides, or until cooked through.
  8. Keep cooked flatbreads on a plate covered with a slightly dampened towel, to keep moist until eating.
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