The golden crust of warm fresh bread is a feast for the senses and an invitation to not only enjoy the food but to thank God for providing it. Inviting recipes and thoughtful reflections offer encouragement and instructions on how to live fully on God’s bounty.
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About the Author
Karen Whiting is an award-winning author of twenty-plus books and writes to strengthen families. A proficient crafter, Whiting's inspirational craft books have gone into several printings. A member of Officers Christian Fellowship for more than four decades, Karen is a widow, mother of five, and grandmother of nine. She lives in Rock Ledge, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
The Gift of Bread
Recipes for the Heart and the Table
By Karen Whiting
Worthy Publishing GroupCopyright © 2017 Karen Whiting
All rights reserved.
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Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."
"MMM, MOM, I SMELL WHEAT BREAD. Is it ready?" Rebecca called as she rushed in from school.
"Almost." I slid four plump, golden-brown loaves from the oven.
The boys' laughter filled the air as they entered the room. James said, "I'll get the butter. I want three big slices."
"I'll pour drinks." Michael added.
The children sat around the table and waited as I sliced and buttered hot, steaming bread and offered them honey to spread on it. Finally, we started munching, and the chatter began about homework, test results, conversations with friends, and upcoming plans. As they shared the tougher moments of their day, they sighed, relaxed, and let go of problems.
It takes planning to have your bread ready at the right time, although bread machines make it easier since they have automatic timers that can be used. But when the inviting aroma of bread fills the air, it beckons people to sit and enjoy a relaxing time at the table. Nothing seems to warm hearts and open conversation as well as fresh-baked bread.
LOVIN' FROM THE LORD
So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread."
Genesis 18:6 NIV
In biblical times, bread served as a vital sign of hospitality. Living in a desert meant Abraham saw few strangers, so when he looked up and saw the unexpected heavenly visitors arriving, he asked them to stay and eat. He also offered to have water brought so they could wash their feet. Abraham showed hospitality without asking the visitors why they came or where they came from.
He then ran into the tent and said to his wife, Sarah, "Get three seahs of fine flour, knead it, and bake some bread." Then Abraham picked out a choice calf, gave it to his servant, and had it grilled to go with the bread.
Sarah baked the bread from fine flour instead of coarse meal, to honor the guests. It took much longer to grind wheat into finer flour, so most of the time people used coarse meal and shaped small cakes that baked quickly. Kneading took extra time and care; she had to press and turn the dough several times to release the air bubbles and activate the yeast that would make the bread rise.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Reflect on your memories of fresh-baked bread.
Remember the first time you had communion and what it meant to you.
The aroma of warm bread baked in an outdoor oven filled the air. Abraham served the meat with the bread and drinks. After eating bread and enjoying the warm hospitalityAbraham and Sarah offered, the visitors spoke, disclosing coming joys and sorrows, including the prophecy of Isaac's birth and the news that God planned to destroy Sodom.
This is precisely how Christ welcomes us into His kingdom. Christ calls each of us, as honored guests, to eat the bread He offers. It's the best, for He offers Himself, the Bread of Life. He also beckons us to open up and share what's on our hearts when we break bread and share in communion.
When did you last enjoy fresh-baked bread? What memories do you associate with communion? Savor a slice of fresh bread or favorite variety of muffin as you read the pages of this book.
THE JOY OF BREAD MAKING
Agape is a Greek word meaning unconditional love, such as the love Christ has for us. An agape meal is a Christian fellowship meal.
Agape Meal Invitation
Invite friends or family for an agape meal, asking them to bring their favorite bread, rolls, or muffins to share. Also ask them to provide copies of the recipe if they plan to bring homemade bread.
Serve a variety of beverages with the bread and use your best dishes. If anyone has wheat allergies, include some gluten-free bread. Fill a small basket with Scriptures about bread, written on bread-shaped papers for guests to read and reflect upon. Light candles to give the room a warm glow. Prepare your bread to come out of the oven as guests arrive, so the aroma permeates your home.
As guests arrive, add the breads they bring to the table. Provide butter, honey, jams, and cheese to accompany the bread. Put out a bowl of grapes or other fruits. Start the gathering by giving thanks to God for the blessings of a bounty of food and great fellowship.
Ask friends to share memories of fresh-baked bread or rolls. What breads do they connect with special childhood holidays? What restaurants serve special breads they enjoy that cause them to return? Share your own memories too. Capture this time together with photos. It might become a new tradition.
An alternative would be to have a private communion with the Lord. Set a date and then, on that day, set the table with bread, grapes, and juice or wine. Place a candle on the table. Select your favorite Bible passage about bread. Relax, savor the flavor and texture of the bread, and then talk to God.
Use this quiet time for prayer and reflection. Give thanks for the blessings God has given you. Let Him know your worries and needs. Read other passages about bread. Listen to praise music. Review the words of Jesus in John 5 where He multiplied bread and then declared He is the Bread of Life. Journal as you reflect. Let God's love fill your heart and mind. Look up any Scripture passages that come to mind. Remember that God multiplies blessings and He is able to satisfy you.
A MORSEL OF BREAD
Start a day with the aroma of fresh cinnamon toast. Accompany it with the sweetness of God's Word.CHAPTER 2
A Special Setting for Bread
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But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.
I GIVE BREAD A SPECIAL PLACE at my table, in honor of Jesus, the Bread of Life.
I have collected a variety of bread baskets for different types of bread. I have also purchased decorated napkins to cover open bread baskets. Sitting in the center of the table, each bread basket serves as a reminder of God's presence.
Think of ways to give bread a special place of honor at your table. Experiment with arranging bread, wheat, and fruits to create appealing centerpieces. Print a Scripture about bread on a small card, attach it to a skewer or place card holder, and add it to the centerpiece.
Our family made a special bread plate as a reminder of God's provision. The plate pictures a loaf of bread with hearts popping out. The words "Lovin' from the Lord!" surround the loaf. When guests remark about the plate, it opens discussion about Jesus and provides an opportunity to share our faith, inviting everyone to make room in their hearts for Him.
Beyond bringing bread to the table as a central part of meals, Christians should make Jesus, the true bread, central in their lives. Let His Word fill your spirit and nurture your soul. Let the sight and scent of bread remind you to reflect on Jesus.
LOVIN' FROM THE LORD
Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, "May the Lord be with you." And they said to him, "May the Lord bless you." Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, "Whose young woman is this?"
The Moabite widow, Ruth, met her husband, Boaz, while gleaning the sheaves that fell when the harvesters gathered the wheat in his fields in Bethlehem. Boaz saw Ruth and admired how she labored for food for her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, and herself. She didn't complain but trusted in God, whom she had come to believe in through Naomi. Ruth and Boaz married and became the great-grandparents of King David and ancestors of Jesus.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
What memories do you associate with a nativity set or the biblical account of the birth of Jesus?
How do you make room for Jesus in your daily life?
It is fascinating to know that Jesus's birth took place in a town named Bethlehem, because the word means "House of Bread." God deliberately chose the place and the name — it wasn't accidental that the Bread of Life was born in a town called House of Bread, a place known for the wheat that grew there. The place of His birth reflected the purpose of Jesus to provide spiritual nourishment for mankind. The prophet Micah announced the Messiah's birthplace centuries before it happened. The words of Micah gave people hope as they waited for His coming.
At the birth of Christ, the magi sought Him because of the signs they saw in the sky. They found Him because of the old prophecies that named Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah.
However, at His birth, Bethlehem had no room for Jesus. His parents found only a lowly stable in which to lay Him. Today, many people reject Jesus and don't make room for Him in their lives or their hearts.
Make time to sit and relax while eating. Use the time to reflect on the day, thank God for blessings, and meditate on how He has come alongside you in the hard moments.
THE JOY OF BREAD MAKING
Create a special setting for bread at your table to provide a bountiful look.
1. Buy a solid-color dinner plate and permanent, nontoxic markers.
2. Draw a colorful design of bread or wheat on the center of the plate. You might want to design on paper first or cut a stencil.
3. Write a Bible verse about bread around your design.
4. Write each family member's name on the plate.
5. Bake the plate with the design at 425 degrees for thirty minutes. Turn off the oven and let the plate cool completely. Remove from oven. Wash by hand with soapy water. You can put these decorated dishes in the dishwasher, but over time the design might get scratched up.
6. Use this bread plate as a reminder of Jesus's presence at your table and God's provision for your daily needs.
Bread Basket Cover and Design
Embroider or use fabric paints to decorate a cloth napkin with a bread or wheat design. Add a Bible verse about bread. Use the napkin as a covering for a bread basket.
Decorate a wicker basket by painting or stenciling bread or sheaves of wheat on the outside.
Celebrate with the Bread Container
Fill the plate or basket with bread, crackers, or even place a small Bible on it as a reminder of Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Fill the plate with Scripture verses related to bread and pull them out one at a time to discuss.
When you fast, place money saved on food on the plate as an offering you will give to feed the hungry.
Fill the plate with sandwiches. Talk about being filled by Jesus. Discuss ways to feed the hungry or make sandwiches for a homeless shelter.
A MORSEL OF BREAD
Give Jesus, the Bread of Life, a special place in your heart.CHAPTER 3
Quick Breads, Quick Relationships
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When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat."
WHEN MY HUSBAND attended graduate school, I baked yeast bread from scratch every Tuesday. Every week, Ron, my husband's closest friend, would come over to study and eat bread with us.
Over the years, as our family increased to seven, I found less and less time to bake yeast bread on a steady basis. Instead, I whipped up quick-bread batters, stirring in fruits like banana, mango, or strawberries. I often used local produce. Baking soda or baking powder caused these breads to rise.
In Hawaii, we picked mangos from trees near the swimming pool. In Connecticut and Maryland, we picked wild berries; in New York, we used zucchini from the garden. In Florida, we used bananas. My children enjoyed such breads that I made so much faster without the waiting for dough to rise. They satisfied their growling stomachs.
Quick breads take a few minutes to mix and an hour in the oven. They are also easy for children to help mix and cook. The simplicity reminds me of how easily I can chat with God in prayer. Like the quick breads' cooking time, even a brief time with God results in a refreshed and nourished relationship.
One Christmas, my husband gave me an electric bread machine, and I discovered I could easily adapt my recipes to the machine. Now I can drop in the ingredients and set the machine to prepare just about any bread, including my wheat bread. Later, the smell of the baked bread greets me. The ease and speed amazes me, but never as much as the speed of a quick prayer and how quickly God responds, filling my heart with peace and joy.
LOVIN' FROM THE LORD
The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.
God provided bread easily and amazingly in many ways in the Bible, including raining bread from heaven for forty years to feed His people in the desert. The Israelites only had to wake up, walk out, and pick up bread from heaven, called manna. Since it had a honey taste, it was also naturally sweet.
The only time the people could gather extra was the day before the Sabbath. Then, they would gather enough for that day and the next day. God used the planned-leftovers to give them a day of rest and a day to recall His generosity.
God provided bread quickly at other times too. Ravens and an angel carried bread to Elijah when he felt exhausted and discouraged. Bread cakes from the angel energized Elijah enough for a forty-day journey. That's energy food at its best! And, at the Last Supper, the bread was already at the table for Jesus to share with His closest companions. He broke it and passed it around the table.
The real miracle of Jesus, the Bread of Life, is His instant availability. He's ready for anyone without purchasing, measuring, or even touching a button connected to electricity! He's as close and available as a prayer.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
When have you called on Jesus and received an answer fast?
When has God provided for your needs?
THE JOY OF BREAD MAKING
I enjoy making quick breads and have learned the importance of not overbeating, of testing for doneness, and other tips that make my breads moist, tender, and flavorful.
Quick Bread Tips
Freeze peeled, old bananas for making banana bread. Thaw when you're ready to make the bread.
Quick breads cut better when cool. They tend to crumble when hot.
Be sure the leaven is still good. Add water to baking soda and see if it bubbles. Add vinegar to baking powder and see if it bubbles. The bubbles indicate the leaven is active enough to make the bread rise.
Do not overmix a quick bread or muffins. Too much mixing adds too much air and creates rubbery dough. Add the liquids at once to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed. It's okay to look lumpy.
Quick breads freeze well and last about three months.
Roast nuts in the oven for about eight minutes before adding to bread batter. They will be crunchier.
If you like a particular quick bread recipe, experiment with changing the fruit or vegetable. Basic fruit bread recipes can be adapted for other fruits. Banana bread recipes work fine with mango instead of banana. You may need to adapt the amount of liquid or dry ingredients as you experiment.
Mix liquid from drained fruit with softened butter or cream cheese for a tasty spread.
Instead of making a loaf of bread, divide the batter into muffin tins and make muffins. Decrease the cooking time as these usually cook faster.
Soggy bread with a sunken center indicates the recipe used too much liquid. Next time, add more flour or decrease the liquids.
Quick breads often crack on the top when baking. That's fine.
Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or wooden skewer in the center. It should come out clean. If dough sticks to it, continue baking.
A coarse texture results from too much fat, so decrease the oil or butter in the recipe.
Too much sugar results in a thick, dark crust.
Experiment with different spices to change the flavor.
Consider adding raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips to the batter.
A MORSEL OF BREAD
The word companion means "friend." It comes from Late Latin com panis meaning "one who eats bread with another."CHAPTER 4
Come to the Table
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When [Jesus] had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD, my family often started the day with toasted bread or warm muffins for breakfast. They warmed us up before we trudged out into the cold to wait for the bus. School lunches included sandwiches of hearty wheat bread filled with treasures of jam, meat, eggs, fish, or fresh produce.
In the evenings, I watched my dad slow his pace by buttering his toasted bread or warm muffins at dinner. He would sit back, savor the bread, and ask us about our day. For dad, a meal was as incomplete without bread as his day would have been incomplete without prayer. We celebrated victories and shared needs over bread. It slowed the meal down and stretched out our time together. My family used the time to share how God had blessed our day.
Excerpted from The Gift of Bread by Karen Whiting. Copyright © 2017 Karen Whiting. Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Section 1 Biblical Purpose of Bread
1 The Invitation 5
2 A Special Setting for Bread 9
3 Quick Breads, Quick Relationships 13
4 Come to the Table 17
5 Bread and Relationships 21
6 The Staff of Life 27
7 Our Daily Bread 31
8 Communion 35
9 Breaking Bread Together 39
10 Unleavened Bread 43
Section 2 Bread Ingredients
11 More Than a Grain of Wheat: Flour, the Hero 51
12 Yeast 55
13 Sweet Encouragement 59
14 Eggs and Bread. 63
15 Liquid and Additional Rising 67
16 Oil, the Tenderizer; Salt, the Preserver 71
Section 3 Types of Bread
17 Bread for All 77
18 Shaped Bread 81
19 Not By Bread Alone 85
20 Between the Slices 89
21 Cups Overflowing 93
22 Sourdough Starts 97
23 Garden Bread 101
24 Fruit Bread 105
25 Date Nut Bread 109
26 Friendship Bread 113
27 Filled with Hope 119
28 I'll Bring the Bread (Electric Touch) 123
29 Sticking Together 127
30 Bread for Angels 131
Section 4 Sharing Bread
31 Two Loaves Are Better Than One 137
32 Bread of the Presence 141
33 Guarding Bread 145
34 Sweet Bread 149
35 Blended Together 153
Section 5 Steps in Bread Making
36 Gather and Measure Ingredients 159
37 Dissolved 165
38 Making a Smooth Batter 169
39 Waiting for the Dough to Rise 173
40 Whack! The Necessary Punch 177
41 Kneading 181
42 Shaping the Bread 185
43 Baking to Perfection 189
Section 6 Conditions of Bread
44 Moldy Bread 195
45 Burnt Offerings 201
46 Rocky Rolls 205
47 Bread Scraps 209
48 Worse Than Stale Bread 213
49 Up with Crumbs! 217
Section 7 Bread From Heaven
50 Dreams of Wheat and Bread 223
51 Storing Grain 227
52 Gideon's Bread Dream and Victory 231
53 Manna from Heaven 235
Section 8 Feasts of Bread
54 Celebration with Bread 241
55 Picnic with Jesus 245
56 Worshipers with Bread 249
57 Royal Feast 253
58 Promised Long Ago 257
59 Give Thanks 261
60 Extravagant Love 265
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In The Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table, Karen Whiting shares the legacy she received from her mother and grandmothers and offers it to her readers. This is not merely a book about bread. It's not a cookbook. It's not a history book, a devotional, or a Christian living book. The Gift of Bread is all those things bound in one volume. It is comfort food for both body and soul. With the practiced skill of an experienced chef, Whiting whisks together recollections, biblical devotional thoughts, practical tips, and recipes. She folds information into each chapter related to one facet of bread-baking, and adds a dollop of "Lovin' from the Lord"—a brief application of relevant biblical truth. Then Whiting stirs in "Lovin from the Oven," a tried-and-true recipe from either her own kitchen or that of a friend. Each chapter is sprinkled with "Food for Thought" and "A Morsel of Bread" to encourage readers to apply what they've read long after they've turned the pages or baked the bread. The Gift of Bread will easily become a go-to resource for bread baking, whether you're an accomplished baker or a novice in the kitchen. Early in the book, Whiting expresses her desire for the reader: "as we taste and share bread together, your soul will be filled and you will feel satisfied." She got her wish.