MN - Monks Baking St. John's Bread
In the latest Rake, there is an article about the monks living at St. Johns Abbey in Collegeville. One sentence piqued my interest especially. They said they baked thousands of loaves of St. John's bread every day as part of one of their businesses.
I vaguely remember back in the '50's and '60's reading or hearing about St. John's bread. I might have even seen it in the grocery store.
Does anyone know anything about it? Do they sell in only in St. Cloud or is there somewhere in the cities where they sell it?
I remember buying a loaf of this bread at Byerlys in Roseville maybe a year ago. I don't know if it is still sold there or not. The bread was sliced and came in a plastic bag labeled as St. John's Bread. The multigrain bread was dark colored and was not too dense or too dry. The loaf was slightly smaller than similiar loafs on the shelf. The bread was very good.
I have seen the bread in groceries in both Detroit and St. Louis. I cannot tell you where you can find it.
St. John's Abbey has a website but I see no reference to the bread on that site. Maybe you can send an e-mail and get more information.
They may have discontinued their bakery as a lot on the monks are getting old and there are few recruits.
as a graduate of sju, let me shed some light on the situation.
1) the bread is still baked daily. as far as i know, the recipe has been contracted out to stores all across the country, which is why you can find it far from collegeville. the only place i've eaten it from is baked at the abbey. you can purchase it at the info desk in the great hall anytime there is a student worker there--usually between 7am and 10 pm, at least, and perhaps 24 hours.
2) when i was in school there (95-99), a guy named rich baked all the bread. he isn't a monk. he might have had a couple of helpers or some work-study assistants.
3) the bread is one of my favorite breads ever. granted, there is a certain amount of nostalgia involved, and i'll be the first to admit that eaten plain it is a bit dry and crumbly for my taste. but when toasted and spread with some good butter, it is great. its a whole wheat loaf, kinda free form, and goes great with coffee.
4) if you're really interested in the bread, one of the history profs at sju actually wrote a book about the bread, called 'the loaf that became a legend' or something like that. i haven't read it.