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Lagana - Clean Monday Bread

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Lagana - Clean Monday Bread

Clean Monday Bread - Lagana

Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

It's a shame that Lagana is only eaten once a year on Kathari Theftera (ka-tha-REE thef-TEH-rah) or Clean Monday. It's easy to make, and pairs well with many different spreads, especially the carp roe spread called taramosalata (tah-rah-moh-sah-LAH-tah).

There's some old folklore that warns that you should tear pieces off the bread instead of cutting it with a knife in order to ward off evil spirits. I'm not sure where that superstition came from, but it couldn't hurt to follow along.

This recipe is adapted from Diane Kochilas' wonderful book "The Food and Wine of Greece."

Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 to 8 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preparation:

In a medium work bowl, dissolve the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the flour in the warm water. Let stand covered for 15 minutes or until the mixture starts to foam and bubble.

In a large work bowl, combine 7 cups flour with the salt. Make a well in the center with your hand and pour in the oil and the yeast mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are combined.

Turn dough out on to a counter or table dusted with flour and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough feels smooth to the touch but not sticky.

Shape the dough into a ball, brush it with oil and allow it to rise in a covered bowl for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and knead it for another 6 or 7 minutes. Shape it into 2 equal loaves. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on to two lightly oiled baking sheets into flat ovals about 15 inches long and about 6 inches wide.

Brush with oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and allow to proof (rise) again until a finger poked in the bread leaves an indentation without springing back. Preheat oven to 450 degrees during the final rise.

Using your index finger, poke holes across the surface of the bread (about every 2 inches). Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a deep golden color.

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