The Gift of Bread

Recipes for the Heart and Table


By Karen Whiting

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Thirty-one chapters, each featuring detailed and easy to follow recipes for breads of every kind, celebrate the many ways we come together around the table. Whether you are a baker who enjoys thoughtful, inspirational writing or a reader who loves a good cookbook, you will find heartfelt stories and inspirations throughout this book. Expert tips, how-tos, and pointers will turn even a novice into a successful baker, and the writing will encourage readers to reach out and share their bounty with others, while thanking God for their daily bread.



THIS BOOK IS AN OPEN INVITATION to enjoy breaking and sharing bread with loved ones. Reflect on the wonders of God’s nurturing love revealed through His Word as you savor a satisfying slice of bread, an aromatic muffin, or a filling bagel.

Bread and its ingredients are familiar symbols throughout the Bible. These symbols reveal a threefold purpose of bread: sustenance that meets the need for nourishment, fellowship found in breaking bread together, and our covenant relationship with God (see Genesis 14:18; John 6:51).

We can see the triune nature of God in the Creator who made bread for sustenance, the Savior whose body was broken to redeem us, and the Holy Spirit, our helper who lives within us, uniting us with God and allowing us a continuing relationship based on covenant. God gave the Israelites a covenant that included bread placed on the altar, and Christ broke bread as He shared a new covenant with His disciples.

For me, faith and bread will always be linked together. Bread has always been a passion for my family and me. My grandmothers and mother taught me to bake bread. I, in turn, passed on my joy of bread making to my five children. Rebecca, James, and Darlene especially enjoy bread making while Michael and Daniel enjoy tasting the new bread recipes we bake.

It is my prayer that, as we taste and share bread together, your soul will be filled and you will feel satisfied.


Biblical Purpose of Bread


We need the grains as food.
We break it in fellowship.
We picture it as representing our ever present God.
Discover God’s purpose in using bread throughout the Bible.


The Invitation

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.”

JOHN 6:35

“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.


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.”


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.


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 hospitality Abraham 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.


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.


Start a day with the aroma
of fresh cinnamon toast.
Accompany it with the sweetness
of God’s Word.


A Special Setting for Bread

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.


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?”

RUTH 2:4–5

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.


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.


Create a special setting for bread at your table to provide a bountiful look.

Bread Plate

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.


Give Jesus, the Bread of Life,
a special place in your heart.


Quick Breads, Quick Relationships

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.”

EXODUS 16:14–15

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.


The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

EXODUS 16:31

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.


When have you called on Jesus and received an answer fast?

When has God provided for your needs?


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.


The word companion means “friend.”
It comes from Late Latin com panis meaning
“one who eats bread with another.”


Come to the Table

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.

LUKE 24:30–31

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.

Breads nourish our bodies, just as prayer and our time with God nourish our spirits and minds. Grains provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, bran, fiber, and wheat germ. Nutritionists recommend that 45 to 70 percent of our daily diet should consist of carbs because they energize us in a constant, time-released way. Sugars release the energy at once, spiking blood sugar levels. Recent scientific studies reveal that carbohydrates are the primary fuel for both the body and the brain. Whole grains are more nutritious and more flavorful.

In the same way, giving our thoughts to God in prayer slows us down and provides a smooth, constantly refreshing way to build up our souls and our relationship with Jesus. We need to spend time with the One who gave us bread, the staff of life, and Jesus, the Bread of Life.


They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

LUKE 24:32

After Christ’s resurrection, He walked along a road toward the town of Emmaus with two people. As they traveled together on the dusty journey, the two individuals listened to Christ explain God’s Word. Finally, they arrived in town and urged the stranger they had met to stay and eat with them. They didn’t want to part.

Only when they sat together and Christ broke bread did they open their hearts and recognize Him. He disappeared as surprisingly as He had appeared when they walked along the road. Satisfied and filled with bread and knowledge, the two reenergized disciples returned to Jerusalem to share their joy. They spoke to one another about how their hearts had burned within as they listened to Jesus, the Bread of Life, before He broke bread with them. They shared how they knew Jesus when they watched Him break bread. A simple sharing at the table had opened their eyes and hearts.

We come to Christ for spiritual nourishment, eager to be filled by His Spirit, eager for Him to open our hearts. In prayer and Bible study, Jesus will meet us and fill us. We can walk with Him and learn from Scripture, but we also need to take time to recognize and know Him.


When have you been excited to spend time talking about your faith with a friend?

What grace do you say at meals?

As we sit and eat bread, we should pray and listen. We can leave rejoicing, eager to share what we have received and filled with spiritual nourishment to sustain us till we return again for more bread.


It’s good to know some of the basic terms used in bread making. These are just a few that I tend to use more than other terms.

Bench is the work surface where dough is kneaded. Bench rest is letting dough rest on this surface before you shape it. Bench flour is the flour sprinkled on the work surface.

Crumb is the interior of the cooked bread or the pattern formed by tiny holes in the bread.

DDT (desired dough temperature) is the ideal temperature needed for the dough to rise. It’s around 75°F.

Elasticity is the stretchiness of the dough, the property of the dough that allows it to return or retract to its original position after it is stretched.

Gluten is formed when flour is kneaded and hydrated. Two proteins (glutenin and gliadin) in the flour combine to make gluten. It provides the structure of the dough that causes it to be elastic yet strong.

Proof (fermenting) is letting the dough rise.

Proofing or activating the yeast is hydrating the yeast (adding it to water) and checking to see that it will work. When added to water, the yeast should start forming bubbles.

Retarding the dough means to slow the fermentation (rising), usually by refrigerating it. In the refrigerator it will rise, but very slowly. Some refrigerated doughs need to be punched down if they rise too much.

Windowpane test or pull a window. This action tests the gluten. Gently pull a small piece of dough and stretch it to a thin membrane. If it doesn’t break or get holes, the dough is developed. If it does break or holes open, knead it another five minutes.

Yeast is a microscopic single-cell fungus that causes fermentation to cause dough to rise.


On Sale
Jul 25, 2017
Page Count
208 pages
Worthy Inspired

Karen Whiting

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.

Learn more about this author