Scripture for Today
I am the Bread of Life
In the Jewish Tabernacle was an important item, The Shewbread, or “Bread of the Presence“. Today would be a good day to consider Moses, who received the patterns of the Tabernacle and all the commandments of the Old Covenant.Â The picture of the rituals are rich in meaning to illustrate how God desires to interact and fellowship with mankind, and the way in which His Son, The Messiah Jesus, makes this possible.
When Jesus spoke of Himself as the Bread of Life, it was connected with the importance of daily bread for us, but also with the way the showbread revealed God’s presence in our daily lives. The priests ate the bread that had been in the presence of God just before the new bread was to be placed on the golden table.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Although the type of bread that was placed in the Tabernacle was unleavened (made without yeast), there are many wonderful yeast breads that are special for Christmas time. Here is a recipe that I hope you will try.
Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Yield: 1 large loaf
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet â€” 1/4 ounce or 7 grams) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (85 grams) plus 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil, plus more for the bowl
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (5 1/2 ounces or 155 grams) stemmed and roughly chopped dried figs
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, or more as desired
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Few grinds black pepper
1 large egg
Coarse or flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
To make dough with a stand mixer: Whisk the yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into 2/3 cup warm water (110 to 116 degrees), and let it stand for a few minutes, until foamy. In a large mixer bowl, combine the yeast mixture with remaining honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and eggs. Add the salt and flour, and mix until dough begins to hold together. Switch to a dough hook, and run at low speed for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to an olive-oil coated bowl (or rest the dough briefly on the counter and oil your mixer bowl to use for rising, so that youâ€™ll use fewer dishes), cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make fig paste: In a small saucepan, combine the figs, zest, 1/2 cup water, juice, salt, and a few grinds of black peper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the figs are soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and let cool to lukewarm. PRocess fig mixture in a food processor until it resembles a fine paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Set aside to cool.
Insert figs: After your dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured counter and divide it in half. Roll the first half of the dough into a wide and totally imperfect rectangle (really, the shape doesnâ€™t matter). Spread half the fig filling evenly over the dough, stopping short of the edge. Roll the dough into a long, tight log, trapping the filling within. Then gently stretch the log as wide as feels comfortable (I take mine to my max counter width, a pathetic three feet), and divide it in half. Repeat with remaining dough and fig filling.
Weave your challah: Arrange two ropes in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a tight tic-tac-toe board. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet. So, now youâ€™ve got an eight-legged woven-headed octopus. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move the leg to their right â€” i.e., jumping it. Take the legs that were on the right and, again, jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. If you have extra length in your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. Tuck the corners or odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.
Transfer the dough to a parchment-cover heavy baking sheet, or, if youâ€™ll be using a bread stone, a bakerâ€™s peel. Beat egg until smooth, and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour, but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375Â°F.
Bake your loaf: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed; if yours starts getting too dark too quickly, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. The very best way to check for doneness is with an instant-read thermometer â€” the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.