Gluten-Free Communion Wafer: Recommended Options for Purchasing

GF wafer options comparisons–

Nabisco Gluten Free Rice Thins
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Nabisco-Rice-Thins-Original-White-Rice-Thin-Rice-Snacks-3.5-oz/26832117

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I purchased at Woodman’s in Onalaska on 8/11/13 for $2.49
(could ask for a case discount if continue to use)

Serving size says 18 pieces at about 3 servings per container = about 54 crackers per package … I will calculate based on 50 crackers to be conservative (my box did contain some broken pieces … which I would be OK with using at communion)

2.49 / 50 = .0498 … so .05 per cracker/communion serving

 

Pros:

  • No need to break crackers into smaller pieces
  • affordable and easy to find (according to what I’m seeing in stores currently)
  • appearance similar to wafers if the congregation is used to this
  • simple allergy-friendly ingredients

Cons:

  • sized slightly larger than most communion wafers
  • if using intinction, these will not absorb as much wine/juice
  • a bit crunchier than a wafer (possibly distraction to some)

Hol Grain Crackers Brown Rice with a touch of salt

online (http://www.conradricemill.com/Details.asp?ProdID=33&category=8)
48.39 for a case / 12 for 4.03 per box (although I assume there is shipping)
Note: at times these are also available via Amazon at a variety of prices for a box or case although I have never seen them less than the above price

At Woodman’s (on 8/11/13) $5.09 for a box
(could ask for a case discount if continue to use)

Serving size 7 crackers with 8 per box 56 crackers — for communion breaking into thirds is recommended (or at least half, but since I recommend thirds I will calculate that way). Calculation on 50 crackers per box (25 per sealed bag) to account for breakage, etc.
50 x 3 = 150 communion servings
5.09/150 = .03 per communion serving

Pros:

  • Very simple allergy friendly ingredients
  • affordable
  • if using intinction, these soak up the wine/juice better than most crackers
  • neutral non-processed taste and texture

Cons:

  • the need to break/cut the crackers into smaller pieces can be messy and is an extra step
  • if not using intinction these crackers are very dry and you may want to consider a smaller piece than 1/3 of the whole cracker

The above two cracker options are my current recommendations for those that want to use something GF to replace communion wafers. These two options are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, and are preferable in both taste and texture to the GF wafer options currently available while remaining allergy friendly (avoiding the addition of soy or other allergen like found in so many other GF products).

Products made specifically as Gluten-Free Communion Wafers
The following two products (really seems to be one product with different packaging although I cannot confirm that) are what I see available for a product specifically marketed as GF communion wafers. If you know of others, please leave a link in the comments area!

Ener-g communion wafers
http://www.ener-g.com/communion-wafers.html
These are available from many sources at a variety of prices. I will use the prices currently on their website for my comparison. Due to shipping these may be more cost effective if there is a local place you can purchase them. Currently many local supply stores as well as gluten-free specialty stores or sections of large grocery stores are carrying them.

Box of 50 @ 8.79 or buy a case to lower price to $7.91 per box
(note, these almost always include broken ones but I will still calculate at the 50 pieces)

8.79/50 = .18 per communion serving

Pros:

  • allergen friendly for top allergens
  • very familiar shape, etc. to those accustomed to using wafers
  • may be able to purchase at the same place you purchase regular communion wafers
  • produced in a facility that understands food allergies and celiac disease

Cons:

  • These simply do not taste good, especially after being open for awhile (this was not true years ago when I began using this brand for GF communion so I believe that a recipe change to move toward avoiding additional allergens, such as soy led them to go stale faster, be more fragile, and taste um, bad)
  • these break very easily and seem smaller than many communion wafers making them less than ideal for intinction.

GF Wafers offered by Celebrate Communion
http://www.celebratecommunion.com/gluten-free-communion-wafers-130.html?gclid=CNa74f6H-7gCFaZaMgodl3AA_Q
These seem to be identical to the Ener-g wafers, but packaged differently. I can not verify that because I have not used these wafers personally.

$19.95 for a box of 130 = .15 per wafer

Similar pros and cons would apply as above. The packaging here helps to prevent crushing; however, if you are not going to quickly use the entire container, there may be more waste.

The Gluten-Free Church: A Eucharistic Manifesto

The Gluten-Free Church: A Eucharistic Manifesto

It is becoming more and more common to hear both pastoral and lay leaders call for inclusive communion practices as part of broader hospitality and accessibility ministries. My heart rejoices when I read or hear such calls for inclusion as found in this manifesto.

What are your thoughts?

How to Offer Gluten Free Communion

http://glutenfreejesusfreak.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-to-offer-gluten-free-communion.html

Another blogger’s great view (& some practical instructions) for offering gluten-free communion! Do you have any suggestions to add? Do you predict other challenges? Please share your experiences!

Easy Gluten-Free Communion Bread From Gluten-Free Vegan Quick Bread Base

When I first started considering baking gluten-free bread I researched what others had already done, and found very limited resources. One refreshing post I did find was this one from the Windy City Cooking blog. I loved that she shared her heart and passion and her story about attempting to safely participate in communion at her church. I also love that she shares what has worked for her and her congregation.

Oh, and I loved that the recipe she shares is one I am familiar with, as I follow that particular food blogger, Brittany at Real Sustenance, and make her recipes all the time! And, the recipe is adapted from the Easy Gluten Free/Vegan Quick Bread Base with Endless Flavor Possibilities recipe which is my 8-year-old daughter’s favorite thing for me to break (we just call it “pear bread” though as we began by making it with pears).

I have made this recipe many time, with many different gluten-free flour blends and it has always turned out. The taste and texture will vary by what flours, fruit(s) and milk you use (I highly recommend coconut milk from a can). At times it can be crumbly though and if I didn’t have testimony saying it worked well as a communion bread I would suspect many variations would be too crumbly for easy distribution. With a small group versus a large congregation this would be less of an issue however. I also think this quick bread does best baked in smaller loaves. I use my pampered chef 4 loaf stoneware that bakes 4 small loaves at one time. I also line the pans with parchment paper.

If I ever use this recipe as communion bread, I will let you know what specific variation I used, and I would love to hear from you if you use this recipe as well!

Gluten-Free Communion Bread 1.0: Round Sweet Loaves (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free allergen-friendly)

Gluten Free Communion BreadThe following recipe was served to the Wartburg Seminary community during the chapel service on May 15, 2013. I had made a very similar version for a service in February; however, this one had slightly better texture and taste. The general consensus was that this was “good bread.”

Considering that I cannot share this recipe without linking back to another “inspiration recipe” it may not seem like I did a lot of work to get to this point, but rest assured my baking notebook is filled with failed attempts. After a weekend of multiple failed attempts, I decided I did not need to start out by reinventing everything from scratch, especially since my goal is to not have inexperienced bakers be afraid to attempt this at home!

This recipe that worked was inspired by the Bread Bowl recipe from Pamela’s Products, and at this point I cannot yet say how altering the flour mix will change the resulting bread. (I do intend to test this recipe with other flour mixes, and will report my results. If you try it as well, please report your results in the comments area.)

Makes 6-7 round loaves depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix flour*
  • 2 yeast packets
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 4-6 T honey (preference based on sweetness desired and consistency)*
  • 1 T molasses
  • 4-6 T granulated sugar of any type (can be omitted but will be less sweet)*
  • Olive oil for oiling hands and coating top of bread rounds halfway through baking time

Directions:

Prepare baking sheets or stones by placing parchment paper over entire surface.

Place flour in very large bowl and create a well in the middle to pour all of the other ingredients into. Add all other ingredients and mix well. I find mixing this by hand works fine, but you may use a stand or hand mixer as well. The texture will be very different from other types of bread (almost goopy or sticky). However, when it is well mixed you will notice the text start to “come together” and change a bit, and this is when you can stop mixing. I find this takes about 3-5 minutes when mixing by hand, but you may be more efficient than I am!

I find it easiest to use disposable plastic gloves to make the loaves. Either way it is helpful to oil your hands before beginning to scoop the dough onto the baking sheets or stones.

I use two small/average handfuls of dough to make one round loaf of this bread. Simple scoop onto the baking sheet and then smooth out a bit. I usually fit three round mounds onto each of my two baking stones. Then cover with flour sack towel or loose plastic wrap and allow to rise for about an hour. (I am experimenting with a non-rising version as well.) I generally use my warm (not hot!) oven to do this. I have also allowed it to rise prior to shaping into loaves and I find doing the shaping first is more effective.

Go ahead and score the loaves now if you want (I do one simple cross pattern on each round). You will likely want to re-score them halfway through the baking time.

Set oven at 325 degrees. (unless your oven bakes “hot” or “cold” on average and then adjust accordingly!)

Bake 16-18 minutes. Remove from oven briefly, re-score if desired, and lightly coat with olive oil before returning to the oven, and bake another 18-20 minutes.

total baking time is 36-40 minutes generally and for me depends on what rack in my oven the bread is baking on.

Remove from oven and let cool!

Special notes:

*The Gluten Free Bread Flour mix I used is a Pamela’s product, and generally easy to find in area grocery stores I have been to as well as online. It worked better than any of my own mixes I have tried so far although my long-term goal is to give readers many tested options. Before replacing this flour with another flour mix, please look closely at the ingredients in this flour mix. It is created specifically for making gluten-free bread, and it also has some sweetener added to it. I feel like this level of sweetness is desired in order to cover the flavor of some of the GF flours. (I did not add as much sweetener to my first attempts and the community it was served to noticed as they are used to honey-sweetened flat bread being served at communion.)

Please also notice that the directions include using parchment paper. This helps both with the bread not sticking at all and with any possible cross-contamination coming from the pans. Even though the stoneware I use for baking has never touched gluten, I still use parchment paper every time I bake this bread. For both cross-contamination reasons (more on that in future posts) and general hygiene please make sure all equipment and hands are clean while baking the bread, and use only clean (gluten crumb free!) containers to transport the bread.

PLEASE, please, please let me know how it turns out if you attempt this recipe! And, as always, please share your experiences and what you are looking for in a gluten-free communion bread recipe.

It is Time … Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Communion Bread

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It’s time for me to start sharing what has been happening in my kitchen. For the last several months I have been baking with a purpose. My goal is to ultimately develop several simple gluten free and allergen friendly bread recipes that can be used during Holy Communion.

Please understand that I am not a professional baker (not even close!); however, I hope to eventually collaborate with some that are willing to share their expertise here. What I am is a Lutheran theologian passionate about inclusivity and hospitality. I also happen to be strictly gluten free for health reasons. I may share more of my own story while sharing recipes (and likely a little theology), but the star of this particular blog will be the recipes and related information.

A few words about my recipes:

  • All will be as allergen-friendly as possible. I do not think it is OK to remove one allergen (gluten) and replace it with one or more other common allergens (such as eggs and nuts).
  • All will be as simple as possible
  • All will taste good. I do not believe that consuming GF communion bread should leave a bad taste in your mouth! It is an experiential sacrament after all!

In addition to my personal recipes, I will look for and share what others are doing in order to be inclusive of those with food allergies and sensitivities during Holy Communion. While the focus will be on practical tips and recipes, I will also include personal stories of how meaningful such inclusion can be — if you send them to me!