Saturday, October 10, 2009

Making Prosfora

Prosforo (Communion Bread)Prosfora
A religious seal (sfrayitha) stamps a special design on the prosforo before baking. During preparation of the Eucharist, the priest conducts the proskomithi in which he first cuts out the center of the stamped design that says "IC,XC, NIKA (Jesus Christ Conquers). It becomes the Body of Christ (the Lamb). Then the large triangle on the left is cut in honor of the Virgin Mary. The nine small triangles on the right are cut to commemorate the angels, prophets, apostles, holy fathers and prelates, martyrs, ascetics, holy unmercenaries, Joachim and Anna, and all saints, including the saint of the day's liturgy. The last cuts are tiny squares to remember specific names of the living and the dead.

The sfrayitha has two sides. One side features the full seal described above, and the other side has a smaller circle with the letters IC XC NIKA. When a large number of people are expected for communion, prepare extra bread, making imprints with the small seal around the large circle or on separate loaves.

Take the prosforo to church with a list of names for the priest to mention during the Divine Liturgy. Put the first names of the living in one column of your note (including those who have baked the bread, and others you want remembered) and the names of any deceased in another column. The priest cuts the prosforo in their honor and recites their names during the service.

The Making of Prosphora

Yiota Chatos

1 Very Large Stainless Bowl
1 Blessed wooden seal
4 10-1/4” stainless pans
1 5# bag White Lily Light Baking Flour
1 5# bag Pillsbury Best Bread Flour

8-1/3 cups warm water
1 large serving spoon yeast
1 clean board 3’ x 2’
1 Candle (oil)
1 Icon Mary with Jesus
1 Incense burner with incense

O Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the Eternal Father, who has said with Thy most pure lips: Without me you can do nothing.
O Lord, my Lord, with faith I accept your words; help me a sinner, to prepare the Bread of Offering, that the works of my hands may be acceptable at Thy Holy Table and may become through the operation of Thy Holy Spirit the communion of Thy Most Pure Body for me and for all Thy people.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sift flour into large stainless bowl- alternating the flour. Mix flour with hands and then re-sift flour. Add 1 handful of salt (large serving spoon).
Light Candle and Incense

Add yeast (1-large serving spoon) to 4 cups warm water- blend in the yeast. Pour in the yeast and water mixture to the flour. Start to mix the flour, add the additional 4-1/3 cups of water, as the flour mixture gets stiff.


Make the sign of the cross over the flour mixture with the incense and report the Lord’s Prayer. Place clean board on top of stove (no heat).

Mix flour with hands, mixing well with fists. Repeating the Bread of Life prayer (Greek-no English translation) * you can substitute the Lords Prayer. Continue to knead bread until the bread dough becomes shiny (approximately 20-minutes). MAKE sure to add enough water so the bread will not be too dry. If the bread is dry, it will crack. If the bread is too soft, the seal impression will not remain in the dough.
Say the Prayer of the Bread again – thrice.

Put a clean white cloth over the bread in bowl. Put plastic sheet over the cloth on the bowl and then cover again with a clean towel or blanket. Set clothed bowl on board. This will help the bread dough rise more quickly. Leave on 1 hour-checking dough to make sure it is rising. Light incense again- make the sign of the cross again, leaving the incense burning next to the area where the bread dough is left to rise.

Oil the –pans with Pure Olive Oil. This should be the best olive oil you can purchase (green in color). Using a paper towel, oil the pans very well bottom and sides.

Flour area on table. Knead/punch bread dough, pushing out air bubbles. Repeat the Bread Prayer as you knead.

Weigh out 3-1/2lbs of dough per pan. Form bread into a mushroom shaped ball. May need to wet the dough a little to get it to stick together. NOTE: Some people use to form the bread into 2 pcs. 1 on the bottom represented the Holy Father and 2nd to represent the human part. If you simply pull the mushroom shape apart and wet lightly in the middle, you can accomplish the same results.

Flour the top of the formed bread dough, then brush off the excess flour with a small brush. Place the dough in the pan.

Place the seal in the middle of the floured area and push down into the pan. Holding the holy seal in the center, roll the bread around the seal outward toward the pan. Once this is done, remove the seal. Take a toothpick and push into any air bubbles that may have surfaced. Air bubbles will make your bread crack so be sure to burst each of them. As you go around the bread, make the sign of the cross and repeat “ In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Repeat thrice as you pierce the bread dough’s edge to form the cross.

Moist the outside ring of the bread with brush of water, this will keep the bread from cracking. DO NOT WET the holy seal area. Never touch the seal area of the bread dough. Say the Bread of Life prayer or the Lord’s Prayer, making the sign of the cross. Put the pans on the board.

Light the incense again. Cover the pans with a clean white cloth (Never Use Plastic) once again to allow to rise. Say the Lord’s Prayer or the Bread of Life Prayer thrice making the sign of the cross with the incense. Cover the pans once again with a very lightweight blanket. Leave to rise 1 hour. Checking to make sure that the bread dough is not sticking to the cloth. Heat oven 350_.

Put bread in oven and say the Lords Prayer, bless the bread, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. Cook bread. 1-hour- check bread and rub the outer edge with the olive oil cloth-just to take off any flour spots. This will also give the bread a sheen. DO NOT TOUCH THE CENTER SEAL!

Place the bread upright on the cooling rack. Do not touch bread if at all possible.

Prosphora: An Offering to God
by Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div.
A Recepie from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Making it the way they do on Mount Athos

1 comment:

  1. I was always told never to use oil when baking prosfora. Flour the pan and your prosforo will not stick to it


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.