Lazarakia. Little Lazaruses
They are small sweet, raisin bread made in Greece on Lazarus Saturday, the Saturday before Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. They are baked to celebrate the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
The small loaves are shaped like a man wrapped in a shroud with cloves for eyes. The recipe has loads of spices, mastiha, mahklepi, cinnamon, cloves and I put in a little cardamon and ginger as well. The bread follows the fasting rules, no eggs, butter or milk.
This is the first time I have made them. A few years ago the grandaughters made small paper dolls representing Lazarus but I've only recently heard of these sweet man-shaped buns. On some islands they are stuffed with nuts and raisins. I simply added raisins to the mix. A big spoon of marmalade would also give a special taste. And a glaze of honey and oil, olive oil.
In many places they can be found in the local bakery. I doubt if ours will have fresh hot Lazarakia and I'm not going down to the harbour to find out.
It is finally raining. Good steady rain which the olive trees and grape vines will be slurping up. My young tomato plants and pumpkin seedlings will be loving it too.
Wikipedia says that 'one of the Lazarakia should be kept in the home for the entire years and either eaten the following year (?) or thrown to the fish'.