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Prosforo: Orthodox Offering Bread

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Photo of Greek Prosforo Offering Bread

Prosforo Greek Orthodox Offering Bread

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

In Greek: πρόσφορο, say: PROHS-foh-roh

Prosforo ("offering") is made by members of the Greek Orthodox faith as altar bread for celebrations of the Divine Liturgy. The bread consists of two loaves baked together, one placed on top of the other. Each loaf is stamped with a seal. The double loaf represents the divine and human nature of Jesus Christ. Traditional Greek homes reserve a pan that is used only for making prosforo.

This is a traditional recipe, and links to more modern recipes are included below.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • FOR THE BREAD
  • 1 cup of dark (rye or other) flour AND
  • 1 cup of white whole wheat flour AND
  • 4 cups of white bread flour OR
  • 6 cups of bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 cups (approximately) of lukewarm water (105°F, 40°C)
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • ----------
  • FOR BAKING
  • Prosforo seal
  • flour

Preparation:

Sprinkle yeast on top of 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water and stir to dissolve.

Sift the flours together into a large bowl. (If using 6 cups of white flour only, sift now.) Whisk in salt to distribute. Make the sign of the cross into the flour (or make a well in the center of the flour) and add yeast mixture and remaining water. Use hands to mix, rotating in a circular motion to pull flour gradually into the center. When the dough sticks together, turn out onto a floured work surface and knead to form a smooth, elastic, firm dough (about 20 minutes). Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes, then knead again for about 5 minutes longer.

Lightly flour an 8-inch cake pan.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into two round loaves. Flatten one loaf slightly and place in the middle of the cake pan. Press the seal firmly into the dough until the dough fills the pan around the sides. Flatten the second loaf and place on top of the first. Dust the seal with flour and press down firmly to get the best possible imprint.

If needed, use a brush or small spoon to gently fix any uneven edges in the imprint from the seal.

Use a wooden skewer to poke small holes at the 12 corners of the cross on the seal (4 in the middle and 8 around the edges).

Cover with a clean towel (make the sign of the cross and place a small cross on the towel), and allow to rise for 20 to 25 minutes.

While the loaf is rising, preheat oven to 355°F (180°C).

Bake at 355°F (180°C) for about 1 hour and 15 or 20 minutes. During baking, if the top starts to get too dark, cover loosely with a piece of foil.

When done, remove loaf from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cover with a clean towel until cooled, and then brush away any flour that may remain on top from the seal.

Yield: one prosforo

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