Prosforo Orthodox Offering Bread

Prosforo Greek Orthodox Offering Bread
Prosforo Greek Orthodox Offering Bread. Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.
  • Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 60 mins
  • Cook: 75 mins
  • Yield: 1 loaf

Prosforo, pronounced PROHS-foh-roh, means "offering" and 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. The double loaf represents the divine and human nature of Jesus Christ, and each loaf is stamped with a special seal. Traditional Greek homes reserve a pan that is used only for making prosforo (in Greek: πρόσφορο).

Ingredients

  • 2 rounded teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (105 F/40 C), divided
  • 1 cup dark, rye, or other flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Flour for dusting

Steps to Make It

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

  2. Sift the flours together into a large bowl. Whisk in salt to distribute.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Lightly flour an 8-inch cake pan.

  6. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form into 2 round loaves.

  7. 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.

  8. Dust the seal with flour and press down firmly onto the top of the dough 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.

  9. 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).

  10. 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.

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

  12. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. During baking, if the top starts to get too dark, cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil.

  13. 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.

Recipe Tips

If you would rather use one type of flour for this recipe, you can simply use 6 cups of bread flour. Sift all 6 cups before adding the salt. A key element to this recipe is the special seal that is imprinted on the top of each layer of bread. These are mainly available as wood, but you can also find them made of plastic. You can also bake the bread in The Gifted Pan, which has the imprint of the seal on the bottom, essentially baking the bread upside down.