Over the next few weeks, just in time for Shavuot, I will be working on recreating the ancient recipe for Shtei Halechem (שתי הלחם), The Two Breads, which was a meal offering brought in the Second Temple in Jerusalem on the holiday of Shavuot. I received an article from Professor Zohar Amar of Bar Ilan University, in which he describes how he recreated the Shtei Halechem recipe and his research that went into it. He does not comment on the taste of his recreation of Lechem HaPanim.
One thing that puzzles me in his research of Second Temple bread recipes is that he says in his similar trial of recreating Lechem HaPanim (לחם הפנים), Show Bread, a meal offering that was brought in the Temple every Shabbat, that no matter what he tried the bread did not taste good and he believes that it was more for show and ritual than for taste. I have to admit that the photos of his Lechem HaPanim recreation do not look that appetizing.
It is hard for me to believe that such an iconic recipe that was kept secret for generations by a family of priests and got such rave reviews in the Talmud did not taste good and was only for show. I am guessing that something in Amar’s recreation was not accurate that altered the taste. I have noticed a few issues with Amar’s recreations. He used traditional and non-scientific derivations of Talmudic measurements, he used metal bread forms, instead of unglazed clay, and I am not sure if he used the correct flour. All of these things make a huge difference. I have some ideas about what needs to be changed, which I will post later if I succeed in recreating this recipe and making it taste good. Stay tuned for more posts about Shtei HaLechem.