Thanks to Annie Boruch for leading an amazing Prosphora baking tutorial. Thanks yo everyone who came out to be part of this important ministry.
Thanks to Tatiana for the video.
Orthodox Holy Bread (Prosphoron)
A prosphoron is a small loaf of leavened bread used in Orthodox liturgies. The term originally meant any offering made to a temple, but in Orthodox Christianity and Byzantine Rite Catholicism it has come to mean specifically the bread offered at the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist).
A prosphoron is made from only four ingredients, wheat flour (white), yeast, salt, and water. Salt was not used in early times and is still not used in the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.
A prosphoron is made up of two separate round pieces of leavened dough which are placed one on top of another and baked together to form a single loaf. This double-loaf represents the two natures of Christ: human and divine. Before baking, each prosphoron is stamped with a special seal called Sphragis or Panagiari, usually bearing, among other things, the image of a cross with the Greek letters IC XC NIKA (“Jesus Christ conquers”) around the arms of the cross. This impression is baked into the bread and serves as a guide for the priest who will be cutting it.
The Lamb and particles placed on the diskos during the Divine Liturgy.
Greek-style prosphora seal, for one large loaf: in the center is the Lamb (symbol: IC XC NI KA Christogram), to the viewer’s right is the Panagia (symbol: ΜΘ (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ)), to the left are the Nine Angelic Ranks (symbol: nine triangles), and on the top and bottom are extra Lambs for Presanctified (symbol: said Christogram). The positions of the Panagia and Nine Ranks will be reversed when the impression is made.
In the part of the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist) known as the Liturgy of Preparation (Proskomedia), a cube is cut from the center of the prosphoron and is referred to as the Lamb (Greek: Ἀμνός, translit. Amnos). It is this Lamb which is consecrated into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ and from it both the clergy and the faithful will receive the Most Holy Eucharist, while the rest of the prosphora which was not consecrated into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ is cut up for the antidoron, the blessed bread which is distributed at the end of the Liturgy.
The motto “the loaf of Nature’s kitchen table,” a common metaphor for returning thanks and agape (unconditional love) back to nature, is derived from prosphora.
Prosphora can vary in size and imprinted design in different liturgical traditions. Generally, the Slavic traditions use five small prosphora with a simpler stamp, while the Greek-Byzantine tradition uses one large prosphoron with a more complex stamp, indicating the place from which the Lamb is to be taken and the places from which particles are removed for each of the remaining commemorations.
In addition to the Lamb, particles are removed from the prosphoron to commemorate the following:
- The Theotokos (Panagia)
- Nine ranks of Angels and Saints
- The living (including the local authorities and the ruling bishop)
- The departed
Baking Prosphora for Liturgy
- Flour – Must be King Arthur Bread Only Flour (Blue package)
- Salt – Course Kosher
- Yeast – Fleischmann’s – Instant Dry or Rapid Rise (Do not use “Active”)
- Warm Water
- Non-Stick Spray
- Prosphora Seal
- Large Mixing Bowl (preferably glass or plastic)
- Dough Hook or Fork
- Cake Tester Pin
- 7 x 3-inch round baking pan
- Dish Towel
- Plastic wrap
- Large Ziplock Baggies
- Say First Prayer:
O LORD JESUS CHRIST, ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF THE ETERNAL FATHER, WHO HAS SAID WITH YOUR 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 YOUR HOLY TABLE, AND MAY BECOME THROUGH THE OPERATION OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT, THE COMMUNION OF YOUR MOST PURE BODY FOR ME, AND FOR ALL YOUR PEOPLE!
+IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN+
- Mix ingredients together in a bowl with Dough Hook or Fork:
a. 4 Cups of bread flour,
b. ½ tsp Salt,
c. 2 ½ tsp Yeast (or 1 small pkg),
d. Add 1 ¾ cup Warm Water.
- Lightly kneed the mixture into a ball, adding in light flour as needed to reduce stickiness.
- Lift the dough out and spray non-stick spray in the bowl then pat the dough down in the bowl and poke soft indentations with your fingers into the dough.
- Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let sit to rise for approximately 45 minutes.
- When the dough has risen, punch down several times to release the air and knee back into a ball.
- Flatten the dough just a bit and mark with a knife a cross to separate into fourths.
- Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray the baking pan with non-stick spray.
Remove ¼ of the dough and put it onto a lightly floured flat surface, put the remaining ¾ of the dough into the baking pan, and patted down to spread to all edges.
- Take the Prosphora seal and press firmly on the ¼ portion of the dough on a flat surface.
- Take the cake tester pin and poke four times around the inner lamb square at each corner and then poke four times as if making a cross at the top, bottom, left, and right, then lay on top of the dough in the baking pan.
- Say the second prayer:
O LORD AND MASTER JESUS CHRIST, OUR GOD, WHO ALONE HAS POWER TO FORGIVE THE SINS OF MANKIND, DO YOU, O GOOD ONE, WHO LOVES MANKIND, FORGIVE ALL THE SINS THAT I HAVE COMMITTED IN KNOWLEDGE OR IN IGNORANCE, AND MAKE ME WORTHY TO RECEIVE WITHOUT CONDEMNATION, YOUR DIVINE, IMMACULATE AND LIFEGIVING MYSTERIES; NOT UNTO PUNISHMENT OR UNTO INCREASE OF SIN; BUT UNTO PURIFICATION, AND SANCTIFICATION AND A PROMISE OF YOUR KINGDOM AND THE BREAD OF LIFE; AS A PROTECTION AND HELP AGAINST ALL ADVERSARIES. FOR YOU ARE A GOD OF MERCY AND COMPASSION AND LOVE TOWARD MANKIND, AND UNTO YOU WE SEND UP GLORY TOGETHER WITH THE FATHER, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT: NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO AGES OF AGES. AMEN.
- Place pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until lightly brown. Check at 30 minutes with a cake tester. If the tester comes out clean, it is done. If you have a thermometer, check the internal temperature to be 350F degrees.
- Remove pan from oven. Leave the bread in the pan for at least 15 minutes to cool. Wait for at least 4-6 hours for the bread to completely cool before bagging the bread. You can put a towel over the bread while it cools so it doesn’t dry out.
- Wrap the cooled bread in plastic wrap and store it in a large zip-lock bag. Write the date on the bag. Freeze.