Greek Lenten Bread (Lagana)
Greek Lenten Bread (Lagana)
LUKE 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
The Lenten bread known as Lagana traditionally sees the light of day only once each year, on the first day of the Greek Orthodox Lent, known as Clean Monday. This recipe is Daniel fast friendly, Orthodox fast friendly, and Lent friendly.
Lagana was originally an unleavened bread but, over the years, a little yeast has crept into the recipes. It’s most often shaped like a rectangle with rounded corners, and is a fairly flat loaf.
Making Lagana has special significance since it is usually only made once each year. Making the bread entirely by hand, your prep time can take up to an hour and your cooking time will be about 30 to 40 minutes.
Orthodox Lenten restrictions dictate the use of olive oil, although a substitute oil can be employed if you are not strictly observing. Personally, I feel the olive oil lends Lagana its unique and internationally recognizable flavor, and it’s healthier than most alternatives.
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
The following interpretation is based on this original recipe.
FOR THE BREAD
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or fresh milled whole wheat)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dry yeast
½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup lukewarm water
FOR THE TOPPING
extra virgin olive oil
4-5 tablespoons white sesame seeds
a few black sesame seeds
Usual assortment of measuring cups/spoons
baking sheets: either cookie sheet or pizza stone
brush for olive oil
Preheat the oven to 355° degrees F (180° degrees C)
Sprinkle the yeast in 1 cup of warm water in a nonreactive bowl. Leave sit for 30 minutes until it foams.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast-water mix and oil. With hands or a wooden spoon, mix to create a cohesive dough. If needed, add a little more warm water.
On a floured surface, knead the dough until it no longer sticks to the hands and is soft and malleable. Form into three flat loaves, round or rectangular, about ½ to ¾ inch high.
Place on baking sheets, cover with a towel, and allow to sit until doubled in height, about 45 minutes.
Poke the loaves in several places with your fingers. Brush lightly with oil and sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds (approximately 1 tablespoon per loaf).
Bake at 355° degrees F (180° degrees C) for 30-40 minutes, until golden.
About 3 loaves
|Low in sodium
Very low in sugar
In Greek: λαγάνα, pronounce lah-GHAH-nah
Lagana loaves harden quickly so serve them the same day they are baked if you can. If you aren’t planning to eat it immediately, cool the loaves completely, wrap in airtight plastic or seal-a-meal, and freeze. They will keep well in the freezer for several months.
I would love to hear any feedback about this recipe. Did you make it? Did you enjoy it? Did you make any adjustments to it?
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