The first time I was introduced to this type of bread is via a chain letter that is handed by your friends or seen in church doors during the 80’s where it states
THE HOLY BREAD OF PADRE PIO This bread is called “Hemin”. It is the bread of Padre Pio and it comes from the Vatican. It brings blessings to every family who eats it.
1.) Once you receive the dough, put in a glass bowl. Cover with paper or plastic wrap. Do not put inside the refrigerator. 2.) 1st and 2nd day – DO NOT TOUCH – IT MUST ADAPT & ABSORB TO THE SURROUNDINGS. This is what makes it unique from family to family. 3.) 3rd and 4th day – Mix once with a wooden spoon. 4.) 5th day – Add 1 cup of milk, 2 cups of flour & 1 cup of sugar. Mix well with wooden spoon. 5.) 6th to 9th day – Mix once with wooden spoon. 6.) 10th day – Add 1 cup of milk, 2 cups of flour & 1 cup of sugar. Mix well with wooden spoon. Separate the dough into 4 equal portions and give away the 3 portions to 3 different people. 7.) Keep the 4th portion and add ¼ cup sugar, 3 eggs, ½ cup oil and 2 tsp baking powder. Mix well with wooden spoon. Grease the loaf pan & bake in oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. 8.) The bread should be eaten only by the family and not to be taken out of the house.
REMEMBER – You cannot refuse the bread once given to you & use only wooden spoon mix.
** You are only allowed to make this Hemin Bread once in your lifetime. **
O Jesus, full of grace and charity, victim for sinners, so impelled by Your love of us that You willed to die on the Cross. I humbly entreat thee to glorify in heaven and on earth, Blessed Padre Pio of Petricicina, who generously participated in your sufferings, who loved Thee so much and laboured so faithfully for the glory of Your heavenly Father and for the good of souls, with confidence, I beseech Thee to grant me through his intercession, the grace of _________________ which I desire. Glory Be… (3 times). Amen
Notes: 1.) Transfer the dough to a large crystal or glass bowl. 2.) Other members of the family can mix the dough with a wooden spoon. 3.) Use a Pyrex loaf pan or round pan. 4.) You and the family should consume the bread with your family. 5.) The prayer shall be recited before eating the bread with your family. 6.) Microwave oven or a big oven toaster can be used. 7.) First day is today — [Date Here] —
and I hope you and your family receives one of these… there’s nothing to loose if you do it… actually, it’s a blessing for the family and your home!
This is just one version and there are many versions of this hanging around like the popular Amish Friendship Bread. During those times I believed it until I started to learn how to cook and bake, it was not a miracle at all but a product of science where the yeast naturally grows on the starter dough, basically a form of sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread is basically made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast coming from the surrounding environment. It’s kind of a spoiled dough hence its mild sour taste which comes from the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.
This type of bread is one of the oldest ones, and the oldest one on the record dates back to 3700 BC way much earlier than Parde Pio or any saints was born, this record was excavated in Switzerland but definitely it will be older than that. During the old days this was the only leavening used and was very popular during the Middle ages, baker’s yeast was just introduced 150 years ago.
Moving forward to this date most of us don’t even need to ferment the starter dough anymore due to the leavening ingredients available for us today but using yeast or other ingredients does not yield the same result, there is a big difference in texture and flavour preparing it the traditional way. So, for our recipe today we will be making it how it was made before using a sourdough starter which you can easily make at home or handed over to you like that Padre Pio’s chain letter, and once you have that starter making it will be a breeze.
In a bowl using a wooden spoon combine starter water and half of the high-grade flour.
Add salt the slowly add the remaining flour 1/2 a cup at a time, once it can’t be mixed with the wooden spoon start using your hands to mix it in, continue to add the flour until it begins to resemble as a dough.
Shape the dough into two or three large oval shapes loaves then place in a baking tray in a warm place covered with a damp towel. Set it aside for 12 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
Add some slits on the dough surface then place it on a cold oven (not preheated) then turn the temperature setting to 180C then bake for 50-60 minutes or until the surface turns golden brown and crisp.
Remove from oven then let it cool for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.