Dark Communion Bread

By Susan Roach
Updated December 30, 2017

Note: the recipe below makes 6 x 10 ounce loaves plus a ~3 ounce roll.  You can halve the recipe, but if you make six loaves, and one or two turn out to be unattractive, you will still have enough bread for four services.

Yeast mixture:
            2 tablespoons dry active yeast (not the kind for bread machines)
            2 tablespoons coffee crystals
            3 cups unbleached bread flour 

Liquid mixture:
            2 ½ cup water
            3 tablespoons molasses
            4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
            1 square finely chopped unsweetened chocolate
            2 tablespoons vinegar
            3 teaspoons sugar
            2 teaspoon salt                                     

Flour mixture:
            2 cups unbleached bread flour
            3 1/3 cups rye flour

1 Tbs. vegetable oil to grease the stoneware bowl

large ceramic or stoneware mixing bowl
Plastic wrap to cover the bowl
Waxed paper for measuring the rye flour
4-cup pyrex measure
Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook and one mixing bowl
Sturdy whisk
Pizza stone
Very sharp knife
Kitchen scale
Quart-sized freezer bags
Kitchen timer


Stir together the yeast mixture in the Kitchenaid mixing bowl.

Microwave the liquid mixture in the Pyrex measure for 1 minute and stir. Repeat once or twice, 30 seconds at a time, repeating stirring until the butter is melted.

Whisk the liquid mixture into the yeast mixture.

Put the mixing bowl on the mixer stand, with the dough hook attachment.

Gradually add the flour mixture, running the mixer on speed 2.  After the dough is scraping the sides of the mixing bowl clean, let the mixer run for two more minutes.

Turn the dough out into the greased stoneware bowl.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and kitchen towels.  Let rise for 75 to 90 minutes in a warm spot.  I used the top of my smaller toaster oven, set on 120º F, and now on rack #8 in my bigger Breville toaster oven, on its proof setting, at 80º F.

Punch the down down.  Form into 10 oz balls.  You’ll have enough left over for a smaller loaf.

Place on floured chopping boards and let rise for another 60 minutes.

Flatten each ball gently, and let rise for 15 minutes more, while you preheat the pizza stone and the oven to 375°F.   Be sure that the oven rack is in the center shelf of the oven, not up or down.

Before putting each batch of balls in the oven, mark them using one of these methods:

  • Use a sharp knife to slice a large cross (+) shape into each loaf.  For the first line, slice the center line, then do the crossing line as two separate cuts from the center line, i.e. don’t cut across the center line.
  • If you have a bread stamp, lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour, and press the stamp into the loaf.  Use the heels of both hands, and press down very hard.  Flour the stamp after each loaf, tapping off any extra flour.  Don’t stamp them until just before putting them in the oven.

Bake for 21 minutes.

Cool on wire racks, and put into freezer bags labeled with the date they should be used.


Acknowledgements:  Ingredients were derived from the recipe for dark rye bread, in Better Homes and Gardens’ New Cook Book.  Loaf sizes have varied over time, with guidance from St. John’s Altar Guild leader, Nancy Young.  Originally this recipe was used only for Lent, but due to its popularity, it is now used year-round.