Every Thursday evening at college we have a communion service in chapel. I quite often offer to bake bread for this if I have time in my timetable to do it and this week I do so I thought I’d make Prosphora.
A Prosphoron ([GreekGeek] neuter, nominative, singular [/GreekGeek]) is a traditional flatbread used at mass in the Greek Orthodox church. It has some distinguishing features, the most notable of which is that it is stamped with an ornate pattern. I got my stamp here.
The words (when the pattern is reversed on the bread) are:
ΙΣ ΚΣ = (short for) ιησους χριστος = Jesus Christ
ΝΙΚΑ = Victor (as in ‘victorious in battle’ rather than Meldrew!)
Another distinctive feature is that it is made by rolling out two discs of dough and baking them together. This represents the dual nature of Jesus who was both divine and human. It is also made with white flour not wholemeal which I think represents the purity of Christ (but I’m not so sure about that)
Ingredients (makes 2 Prosphora)
100g sourdough starter (refreshed last night)
Mix the ingredients well and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Knead well for at least 10 minutes, I believe you are supposed to recite the psalms or another Prayer while you do this. I listened to the weekly Prayer podcast from the Taizé community in France.
Leave the dough to rise for 60-90 minutes.
When it has approached double its size knock it back, knead it gently and leave it to rise again for an hour or so.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces (I weighed mine out to be 120g each) and form them into tight balls to rest for 10-15 minutes so the gluten can relax.
Roll two of the balls out into flat discs slightly larger than your stamp. Dab a bit of water on the top of each with your finger then roll out the other two balls and place them on top.
Make sure the stamp is well floured but that the flour doesn’t fill the markings and then press the stamp firmly into the dough. Use a cocktail stick to poke small holes at various key points in the pattern (this stops the bread rising too much and losing the markings) then leave them to rest for 20 minutes while the oven heats up.
Bake them in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes. You want them to have a nice colour but not to be so crispy that they crumble everywhere during the service.
Blessed are You Lord God of all creation
Through Your goodness we have this bread to set before you,
Which earth has given and human hands have made
It will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God forever.