Sunday, January 10, 2016

Comparing Show-Bread with Manna Bread by Shelley Houser

This is a guest post by my friend Shelley Houser of, in which she tries to bake Manna Bread that Hebrews had during the desert wanderings. This is an abridged version, so go to her web site for more details or email her at


Hard red wheat: 
1 C of berries = 190 g unground
This ground up to 1 and 5/8 C of flour  or 190 g flour. (Mass stayed the same: volume changed due to crushing)

Soft white wheat:
1 C of berries = 193 g unground (density and shape is different than red wheat berries)
This ground up to 1 and 11/16 C of flour or 193 g of flour (Mass stayed the same: volume changed due to crushing.)  

Added together:

2 and 3/4 C flour, with a total mass of 383 g. (Masses are additive, but volumes are not.) Expected volume would be 3 and 5/16 C flour, but there was only 2 and 3/4 C flour from the two being mixed together.

So, dividing that in two equal volumes, each loaf was allocated 1 C plus 5 Tablespoons, plus about 1/3 of a teaspoon. This was less than the 1.5 C of the smallest volume of the last set of experiments, and less than each of the two separately ground amounts for either the hard red or soft white wheat above. This ended up being an odd amount to measure out, but we could use 1.5 C in the recipe.

For the leavened bread: I started out with 187 g of flour, and for the unleavened bread, I started out with 196 g of flour. 10 grams difference could be accounted for by how much bran got into each cup.

'm not quite happy with how the yeast bread turned out.  I didn't have a pan that was the right size for the amount of dough that resulted from the recipe, and so it spread out too much, and just does not look very good.  I purchased a smaller pan, but it may still be too big.  If I get a chance in the next few days, I may try to repeat the yeast bread portion again.  Otherwise, here is what happened this time.  I also kept track of the total oil used in these loaves, instead of just using the estimate in the last recipe.  Therefore, the total calories is different, and the recipe is a bit different, too.  Since it was that weird amount of flour, I am going to just keep the 1.5 Cups of flour as the base amount in the recipe.

Leavened Manna:

1.5 C whole wheat bread flour (actual amount was 1 Cup + 5 Tablespoons + 1/3 teaspoon, or about 187 grams)
2.25 teaspoons active dry yeast
scant 1/2 C warm water (can always add a bit more if dough is too dry)
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 C olive oil (have another 1/3 C available for kneading and dough preparation)

Put a scant 1/2 C of warm water in a small mixing bowl. Add the 2.25 teaspoons yeast and mix well.  Add the 2 Tablespoons honey and mix well again. Let sit until yeast is foamy, and smells like yeast.  If it doesn't do this, then get some new yeast and try again. While the yeast is waking up, put 1.5 Cups of whole wheat bread flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add salt and mix well. Add yeast mixture and stir. Add oil, and mix well. If the dough is a bit too dry, then add water by tablespoons until you have a moderately soft dough, that has a few white patches on the outside of the ball, and has a few white stringy gluten bands on the inside of the dough. If the dough is too wet and sticky to knead, then add a small amount of flour, until you get the appearance described above. Place scrappy dough ball on a well-oiled table surface, and knead until the dough ball is smooth and satiny, and will be able to pass the window-pane test. (When a small amount of dough can be stretched without breaking, until it is translucent enough to see some light through the dough). Place in a bowl that has been greased with olive oil, and rub a little oil on the top of the dough before placing a towel over the bowl. Place bowl in a warm area for 10 minutes, or until dough ball has doubled in size. Place dough on a well-oiled table surface, and roll out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Spread 1-2 Tablespoons on the dough, and fold it in half. Spread more oil on the top surface, and fold in half again the same way. You should now have a long, thin rectangle. Spread oil on the top surface again, and fold the dough into thirds. You should now have something that resembles a folded cinnamon roll.  Re-oil table surface and take the rolling pin, and roll out the folded dough again to a rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick. Oil surface, and fold as described above. Continue to roll, oil, and fold as above one more time, or as desired.  If the dough starts to pull apart when you roll it out, then you are on the border of having too much oil worked into the dough. Stop adding oil, and just fold as described. For the last roll out, if you want a traditional American-style loaf, then just fold it in half, and roll up the rest of the dough. Pull the edges down and tuck in on a bottom seam. Place into a well-greased small loaf pan (try the size used for holiday breads 8 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/2), and cover with a towel. Place in a warm area, and let rise 1 hour, or until double. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until top is browned, and firm.  Take out of pan, and cool on cooling rack. If it is not browned nicely on the bottom, then return it to the oven for a few more minutes. Makes 1 loaf, or about 8 dinner-sized rolls. Caloric value:  (per and using 7/12 C oil. ) 1872 calories.  

Unleavened Manna:

1.5 C whole wheat pastry flour (Actual amount was 1 cup, plus 5 Tablespoons, plus 1/3 teaspoon, or about 196 grams)
4-5 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 C olive oil (plus about 1/4 C more for kneading and dough preparation)


Place flour into medium mixing bowl. Add salt and mix well. Add oil, and mix until all the flour is coated. Add the honey, and mix well again. Add water by Tablespoons, and mix after each addition. You have added enough water when the dough can come together in a scrappy ball, and there are white patches on the outside of the dough, and small white gluten threads showing on the inside of the dough. Turn out on to an oiled table surface, and knead 1-2 minutes, or until the dough can be rolled out with a rolling pin. Roll out to about 1/4 inch and cook as desired.  

Traditional American loaf: Fold in half, and roll the rest into a ball. Tuck edges down and make a seam on the bottom. Shape loaf to be like a football. Place in greased 3 x 5 x 2 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool on rack.  Makes 1 loaf.

Thin crackers: Cut into 1-inch squares (or sizes desired). Transfer to greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. This should take less than 5 minutes. Check often. Cool on rack. Makes approximately 60 1-inch crackers

Small cookies: Pinch off dough, and roll into 1-inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degree, until golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes. Check often. Cool on cooling rack. Makes approximately 20 small cookies.

Unleavened roll: Cut large rectangle of rolled out dough into 8 pieces. Roll out a bit thinner. Fold each piece in half, and then in half again, or in thirds, as desired. Bake on greased cookie sheet for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom. Check often. Cool on cooling rack. Makes approximately 8 rolls.

Noodles: Cut large rectangle of rolled out dough into strips of desired width. Place strips in salted, boiling water and cook 5-6 minutes, or until the noodles come to the surface, and are done to your liking. After the strips are all in, you can turn down the heat, until the water is just simmering, if desired, so the noodles do not break into smaller pieces. Either drain the water off, or take the noodles out with a slotted spoon. May rinse in warm water before serving.  Makes approximately 60 1/4 inch wide noodles. Calories (from, using 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons olive oil) 1554 Calories.

Here is the picture of all three loaves together. From left to right: 

Shewbread loaf. This was the 518 g loaf. 

Middle loaf: Today's unleavened loaf: 318 g. This measures 2 and 5/8 inches wide x 4 and 5/8 inches long x 2 inches high  

Right-most loaf: Today's leavened loaf. It was 372 g. (It has more oil than the unleavened loaf). It spread out to be 4 and 5/8 inches wide x 6.5 inches long x 1 and 3/8 inches high (average over top. Peak in one place was 1 and 1/2 inch, but it was not representative of the entire surface).  

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