Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Holy Bread

 The little church near us dedicated to St John had its annual service at the end of September.  Which St John it is we still haven't found out.  St John of the Fleas, St John of the Splitpea (Fava), St John the Baptist.  Every area has its own name for the saint as they do for the Virgin Mary, each name commemorating a local happening. 



The tiny local chapel, surrounded by cypress trees.



Because it is local I made a loaf of Holy Bread and 5 sweet loaves, representing the 5 loaves and fishes which fed the 5,000,  to take with us to the service.  

This is the Holy Bread with the stamp which is pushed into it.  The bread is called 'Prosfora' meaning 'that which is offered'.  The centre of the stamp has the engraved letters IC,XC NIKA which stands for Jesus Christ conquers.  

The bread is just the usual flour, yeast and water and is divided into 2 pieces.  One is placed on top of the other and then it is baked.  My bread turned out really well.


However the 5 loaves were a different story.  These are a sweet bread with red wine, orange juice and flavourings of mastiha and mahlepi.  I have made the bread before with great success.  This time the two loaves above turned out as they should and I glazed them with a sugar solution.  The other 3 stuck to the pan and had to be cut out ending up with great craters where half the loaf had refused to budge.

I didn't take these to the church but gave them out to friends and family.  They all tasted fine so they weren't a complete failure.

Lesson for the day - always use baking paper when baking sweet bread.


32 comments:

  1. Seriously - St John of Fleas? Which St John is yours? Whoever he is, he should be well pleased with your offerings, they look great. Who gets to eat them by the way?

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    1. St John of the Fleas i I think is 23 June when the kids jump the bonfires made with the dry May Day wreathes. The fire is supposed to kill the fleas, or some such thing. The sweet bread is cut up and given out after the service. The holy bread is for communion but any left over and there often are several loaves, are just given out to those that are in need.
      We forgot, once again to ask which St John it is. I always forget to ask the daughter of the family who look after the chapel. Maybe this time I will remember

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  2. I'll take some if you have any left!!

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    1. Darn, if only I had known! I should have put up this post on the day it happened and then I could have couriered you a loaf. But don't worry, they all got eaten!!

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  3. They look great Linda. Especially the Holy Bread with the stamp.

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    1. That holy bread was a great success. I got the stamp that my daughters mother in law once used and it made a good impression, for once

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  4. My neighbour in Crete makes Holy Bread with a stamp which belonged to her Grandmother. Your breads look wonderful - particularly that beautiful glossy sweetbread !

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    1. The glossy bread was delicious and except for the craters would have been an excellent offering. My seal is one handed down from my daughter's m in law. It made a good impression unlike the one I bought from our local monastery which didn't show any of the cuts and letters. My m in law used to make this bread. I wonder what happened to her seal. My sis in law now just orders the bread and 5 artous from a bakery.

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    2. Ps so nice to hear from you about Crete . We lived in Souda for 5 years .

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    3. Unfortunately we haven't been able to make it back to our little house in Pano Elounda this year due to lockdown and then a few health problems but have everything crossed for next year! I love reading your blog as it reminds me of everything I love about Greece and the islands.

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    4. Hope you get back there very soon! Well, sometime in the coming year.

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  5. Hope you didn't throw away the stuck bread, I would have been buttering that straight from the oven even if it was in pieces, lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. Ha ha, the best way to eat it ! My daughter made toast with it. So did I!!

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  6. My mother would not accept bread that had not risen properly, superstitions and all that. A black cloud would appear over the house and life became not worth living for the rest of the day.

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    1. Bread that doesn't rise is darn heavy and hardly worth eating. I can imagine her mood

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  7. Your prosfora looks lovely, and the sweet I know are delicious. I love that sweet bread they share after the Artoklassia service at church! Sorry some of your loaves stuck to the pans. There are certainly a lot of saints named John . . . do let us know which one yours is when you find out!

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    1. Hi Sara. Fortunately there are always quite a few people who make or bring the 5 artous so ours wasn't missed. I love tasting other loaves. Everyone is different. So nice that you know all about it

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  8. Love hearing about all your different traditions - they are so different to here. Your bread offering looks great, shame about the sweet loaves though.

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    1. It took many hours to make the dough and let it rest and rise. The whole house smelled delectable. Pity we didn't take it to church anyway

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  9. Your bread looks wonderful, shame some stuck, I bet it still tastes good though.

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    1. Fortunately it tasted really good and everyone wanted more

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  10. I would love to bake bread regularly, but I'm spoilt by having much better bread that I could bake, close at hand. That top loaf looks superb.

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    1. Not only was that loaf really tasty but it lasted for ages. We keep bread in the fridge over the summer. It's the only place the ants can't invade

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  11. So many Saints, and I had a wee laugh at St John of Fleas, made me itch a bit lol. But seriously the bread looks good, would be even better with some butter and cheese on it.

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    1. You reminded me of my father who always had strawberry jam on his cheese scones

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  12. They look really yummy
    And absolutely. There are no mistakes. Only lessons

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    1. I always line the pan with baking paper, except this time. A good lesson!

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