Did you know Bethlehem means “house of bread” in Hebrew?
It’s true. Stop by The Kitchen Mission for my musings on this astonishing news.
Advent, the season of waiting and preparing, is fading making way for the joyous crescendo of Christmas. Despite the usual hustle and bustle of pageants and parties for each of the four Littles, we’ve enjoyed a relatively quiet season this year. Partially because of the things I took off my unruly list. We didn’t send cards, or host an extravagant party, or even finish decorating the tree. It’s been wonderful! And the pockets of unplanned or pre-purposed time have brought opportunities we might have otherwise missed.
Like making Bethlehem Bread.
As soon as I recovered from the fact that I must have slept through the Church 101 class where everyone learns Bethlehem means “house of bread,” I immediately assumed people all over the world were making delicious loaves of freshly baked Bethlehem Bread. Luckily, for pride’s sake, my assumptions were wrong. Google Bethlehem Bread and you’ll find, as did I, that there’s not a sea of recipes. In fact, the only reliable source I could find in my five minutes of research is a recipe from the First Baptist Church in Burnet, Texas.
Now if you ain’t from these here parts of the Village, you are probably wondering where on earth is Burnet, Texas. Burnet is a hop, skip and a jump from the ATX and draws folks to the area known for the beautiful Highland Lakes. Mia and Popa have a lake house on Inks Lake and for thirty-some-odd years, our family has called this little slice of heaven home away from home. Burnet, by the way, is pronounced, “Burnet, durn-it. Learn-it!”
Can you imagine that the one and only recipe I found for Bethlehem Bread is from Burnet? Talk about a coinkydink. So the Littles and I decided to celebrate the good news that Bethlehem means to us by baking bread courtesy of the First Baptist Church in Burnet. I’ve made some revisions to the recipe, opting for more savory than sweet rolls with a sprinkling of sea salt in lieu of sugar. We laughed as we tried to form “figure eights” out of the dough. Don’t be discouraged if yours come un-tucked as the dough rises. The results will still be pretty and, more importantly, delicious.
(inspired by the First Baptist Church of Burnet, TX)
7 – 7 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
2 1⁄4 cups whole milk
2 tsp salt
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup shortening (I use Spectrum)
2 packages yeast
Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat or lightly grease and set aside.
Warm milk to room temperature. Mix sugar, salt and yeast with milk. Whisk until all lumps are gone and liquid is smooth.
Pour flour into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the milk mixture into well and begin mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to incorporate. Gradually add shortening until it is thoroughly mixed. Knead dough with your hands until it is smooth and firm.
Remove dough from bowl and place on a prepared baking sheet. Cover with kitchen towel and allow to rise approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour.
After about an hour, cut dough into lemon-sized portions. You should have about 18-20 small portions of dough. Coat each piece of dough with a small amount of shortening to keep the dough moist.
Flatten dough with the palms of your hands into a strip approximately 2” x 6”. Using a sharp knife, cut down the center leaving 1” on each end. Pick up the dough at each end, making a figure eight, bringing each end back into the center. Tuck ends into center slice and press gently to mold.
Cover baking sheets with kitchen towels and allow dough to rise for 3 hours. Brush each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Merry Christmas, friends!
Thank you for yet another valuable lesson alongside a yummy recipe!
Love you friend
Well, that’s Burnet for ya! I might like to try this! Thanks for the good information—really!
Joy Roxborough says
Yeah, someone at church told me the other day that Bethlehem means house of bread. I had never heard it before either.
This is wonderful. My granddaughter Madeleine Frady a resident of Burnet and I had this at the Bethlehem scene in Burnet, Texas. We loved this bread. Unfortunately, she passed three years ago from brain cancer. So I make this in honor of our baby Jesus and her as I know she is healed and having a wonderful time with our Lord. God bless.
Is there a place in Burnet Tx or any nearby cities where I can buy the bread made. I am pregnant and craving it. I went to the birth of Jesus and fell in love with the everything.
Tara Singleton says
I have a question, do you think you could make more by making smaller servings? I might want to make this for our Night in Bethlehem.
Absolutely! It’s an easy recipe to adjust. Keep me posted if you make them for your Night in Bethlehem, I’d love to know!
Bryana Childers says
Can your recipe be halved?
Bryana, I have never tried. Let us know if you half the recipe. Or you could freeze the dough for another use? xo, Kristin
Can you add a video showing the part how you make the figure eight and what you mean by, “Pick up the dough at each end, making a figure eight, bringing each end back into the center. Tuck ends into center slice and press gently to mold”? Thanks!
My daughter went to Burnet ( a hop, skip and a jump away from our home) this past weekend with the church youth group and she came home and told me how delicious Bethlehem bread was and asked me to make it. So glad I found your recipe and I learned something new, I didn’t know the meaning behind the name Bethlehem, but we won’t tell anyone since I was raised Southern Baptist. ?