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Frozen In Time: 100 Years Of Bennie Bread [VIDEO]

ST. JOSEPH — The College of St. Benedict is known for making a bread that is more than a century old. Bennie Bread was developed by sisters from the St. Benedict Monastery in 1914.

It has a tradition of being served to prospective students during their campus tour. Bakers start preparing the bread at 3:00 a.m. each day. The bread is stirred, separated, cut, weighed, rolled and finally baked before it is enjoyed.

Sister Lydia Erkens has been making the bread with the Monastery since 1952. She says when she first started making the bread it was a lot harder than it is today.

“You mix the bread with a big machine. In those days we didn’t have any conveniences like a dough cutter or a roller. We did everything by hand,” says Erkens.

The recipe has changed a little over the years. Today the bread contains more cracked wheat than it did in 1914.

“I noticed that the bread didn’t have very much whole wheat flour or cracked wheat flour, so I played around with the recipe,” says Erkens.

The college makes about 25 loaves on an average day. Each loaf is slightly more than a pound and takes about 35 minutes to bake.

The bread is sometimes given away as gifts at weddings, funerals and commencement ceremonies.

The college has agreed to stay true to the name, recipe and packaging of the bread which includes the phrase, “May those with hunger have bread and may we with bread have a hunger for justice.”

See More of Our 'Frozen In Time' Series

Ashli Gerdes, WJON News

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