Dark Communion Bread

By Susan Roach
Updated December 4, 2018

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 teaspoons dry active yeast (not the kind for bread machines)
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons molasses

Flour mixture:
4 cups whole wheat bread flour
3 cups dark rye flour
2 teaspoons salt

1 square unsweetened chocolate

Liquid mixture:
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 tablespoon coffee crystals
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

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

Stir together the yeast mixture in the 1-cup measure and let the yeast prove for five minutes.  If it doesn’t begin to foam after five to ten minutes, stop.  Go to the store to get fresh yeast.

Stir together the flour mixture in the Kitchenaid mixing bowl.

Microwave the chocolate in a ramekin for two minutes.

Stir together the liquid mixture in the 2-cup Pyrex measure.  Stir in the melted chocolate and the yeast mixture.

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

Gradually add the liquid mixture, running the mixer on speed 1.  After the dough is scraping the sides of the mixing bowl clean. You may need to add a tiny bit more water, or stop to turn the dough, in order to absorb all the flour.  Let the mixer run on speed 2 until the dough is smooth, but before it begins to break.  The dough should give to a pinch — not too firm, and not squishy — when it is done.

Turn the dough out into the ungreased stoneware bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes in a warm spot. I use the inside of my Breville toaster oven on its proof setting, at 80º F.  I’ve also set the bowl on top of my toaster oven set to 100º F, putting kitchen towels over the bowl to keep the heat in.

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

Place on lightly floured chopping boards and let rise for another 60 minutes in a warm place.

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 the 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 all six loaves on the pizza stone together for 30 minutes.  The loaf will have an interior temperature of ~200°F when done.

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


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