As we celebrate the Year of the Eucharist, we’re especially aware of bread, a definite Atkins no-no. In Jesus’ time on earth, bread was a dietary staple, as it has been for millennia. And the bread he ate evolved into something almost all of us love today. Pizza!
Remember that Jesus lived in Jerusalem during the Roman occupation. The entire province experienced the Hebrew tradition of eating unleavened wheat bread. The occupying Roman garrisons were not accustomed to the bland taste of this local style and made do by garnishing the bread with seasonings and spices. This tradition of placing various toppings on flat, coarse bread was carried back to Rome and eventually, the world.
Today, we can sample pizza made with the kind of whole-grain bread that Jesus and his contemporaries ate. The health world now claims that eating carbs isn’t so bad, but that eating carbs made with white, bleached flour can be. Grain-rich, coarse breads are the mandate of the day, and we are obliged to obey – at least until a few months go by and all the magazines, health police and fitness celebrities tell us otherwise. But for the time being, what a great opportunity to emulate Our Lord. If we are going to dine on coarse-grained bread, why not remind ourselves that if it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us. And besides, if you do a little research, you just might be able to find a whole-wheat bread recipe that is pleasing to the palate – and your health.
Here is one that happens to be whole-wheat and lends itself to a delectable treat. Choose your own toppings and enjoy!
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Dissolve sugar in water. Add yeast. Stir for 1 minute and let stand for 5. Combine flours. Combine 3 cups of the flour mixture and salt in a large bowl. Pour in yeast mixture and oil. Knead mixture, gradually adding enough of the remaining flour so dough is no longer sticky.
Shape dough into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it with the oil. Let rise until doubled in bulk, 45-55 minutes, in a warm (not hot) draft-free place. Punch down dough and divide into two pieces. Shape dough by hand or with rolling pin, stretching out to two thin 12” diameter circles.
Add your favorite sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees.
By Michelle DiFranco | Photography by Phillip Shippert