“Christopsomo” in Greek means “Christ’s Bread” and this is why the bread is decorated with a cross. Christopsomo is considered very sacred bread in Greece and is usually prepared the day before Christmas and is served at the Christmas table.
According to the tradition, it has a cross made out of dough in the center and it has whole walnuts, almonds, raisin in it, that represent abundance. It also has other sacred shapes made out of dough which portray animals, members of a family, babies, grapes (a frequent symbol in Christianity and New Testament who represents the abudance), fruits, stacks of wheat (it represents a good harvest), flowers, crosses, a sun (represent life and strenght) leaves (the number of leaves represent the number of family members).
In some parts of Greece, where farming has always been a major occupation, Christopsomo is adorned with dough likenesses of specific farm tools, plows, ears of corn, sheaths of wheat, mules, horses, sheeps, shepherds and more. Everyone decorates it with the symbols that best represent it.
They are almost universally round, the circle a symbol of eternity, or, alternatively, cross-shaped.
**Merry Christmas to everyone**
For the dough:
- 550-600 ml water, at room temperature
- 18 g yeast
- 120 g granulated sugar
- 50 g olive oil, +extra 10g for brushing bowl
- 1 kilo hard flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 10 g salt
- 30 g anise
- 100 g walnuts
- 120 g water, lukewarm
- 20 g olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 1 walnut, whole
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten for brushing
For the glaze:
- 50 g honey
- 20 g brandy or 20gr water
For the dough
- In a mixer’s bowl add a part of the water (550 g), the yeast and sugar.
- Mix with a hand whisk until the yeast dissolves completely and it becomes activated.
- Add the olive oil, flour and cinnamon. Beat with the hook attachment on medium speed for about 5-8 minutes, until all of the ingredients are completely combined start coming together to form a dough.
- If the dough is too thick, you can add the remaining water if needed.
- In a separate bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the dough.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 1 hour, until it doubles in size.
Prepare the dough for the decoration of Christopsomo, so add the water, olive oil, flour and salt in the mixer’s bowl or you can simply use a bowl and your hands. Mix until the dough is smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes to rest.
For the Christopsomo
Deflate the dough lightly with your fingers and shape into a round loaf.
Add the salt, anise and walnuts. Beat for 1 minute, just to combine. They are not added from the start so that they don’t get crushed inside the dough.
Butter a round baking pan (28-30 cm) and line with parchment paper. Transfer the dough into the baking pan and spread lightly. Brush the top lightly with some beaten egg white and water.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the decorating dough and cut it into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a long rope. Then form 2 braids. Place the 2 braids over the Christopsomo and shape a cross. Place the whole walnut in the center. Cover the dough with a towel and wait for the dough to rise for 1 hour. (see also the preparation photos below)
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F Fan and bake for 50 minutes, until the Christopsomo is nicely coloured and cooked through.
- When the bread is almost ready, prepare the glaze by combining the honey and cognac thoroughly. When ready, remove from oven and immediately brush the glaze over the Christmas Bread.
See step by step the photo gallery below
Lagana (Λαγάνα) is an ancient Greek flatbread traditionally baked for Clean Monday (Καθαρα’ Δευτερα) – the first day of the Great Lent. (Clean Monday actually refers to the abstention from sinful attitudes and non-fasting food ). Traditionally, it was prepared unleavened (without the yeast), like those mentioned in the Old Testament, but leavened lagana is nowadays more common. It is typically flat, oval-shaped, with surface decorated by impressing fingertips.
Sesame seeds are a common topping, and it may also be topped with other herbs, and seasoned with olive oil. Linguistically, the word lagana comes from the Greek word “ laganon” (in ancient Greek: λάγανον), which is also the origin of the Italian word lasagna.
Lagana is never cut with a knife but rather broken apart, because iron, the stuff of knife-making long ago, was believed to contain the powers of evil.
- 500 g hard flour (bread flour)
- 350 ml water, at room temperature
- 10 g dry yeast
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 10 g salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 220° C (446° F)
- Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a mixer’s bowl.
- Set it aside for 15-20 minutes so the yeast can activate.
- Add the flour, salt and olive oil.
- Knead by hand for at least 10 min.
- When ready, transfer the dough to a bowl.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1-2 hours, until it doubles in size.
- Punch down the dough and divide it in to 2 equal halves.
- Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on to a working surface.
- Add your dough, dust with some flour and roll out. If it is too difficult to roll out, dust with some more flour.
- Form 2 flat oval loaves
- Transfer to a baking pan along with the parchment. Simply lift the edges of the parchment and transfer.
- Repeat the exact same process for the other half of the dough.
- To make the coating, combine the water and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Brush coating over both flatbreads and sprinkle with a generous amount of sesame seeds over the top.
- Set them aside for 20 minutes, so they can rise again.
- When they have risen, use your index finger to make indentations all over the dough. This gives the “lagana” its characteristic appearance.
- Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Make sure your oven is properly preheated so that the flatbread can turn out as crunchy as possible.
- When golden and crunchy, remove from oven and serve it in the traditional Greek manner with Taramosalata (Fish Roe Dip), Potato Garlic Mash and Kalamata olives.
Pita bread is flat, round bread that originated in Greece, and is commonly found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean kitchens. The first known mention of “Pita” is in Aristophanes’s comedies.
Traditionally, the pita bread is made with wheat flour and yeast. It is traditionally accompanied by hummus, tzatziki, or tabouleh. In Greece, pita is a component of pita-souvlaki. These types of sandwiches involve the wrapping of souvlaki or gyros with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, fries, and condiments into a pita bread
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 250 ml warm water
- 320 g strong flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil + extra for brushing
- In a bowl combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to froth.
- In another bowl, combine the flour & the salt . Mix to combine.
- Add the oil to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture in batches. Make sure each batch is incorporated before adding the next.
- Transfer mixture to a lightly floured working surface. Knead for 4-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth.
- Brush a bowl with some oil and add the dough.
- Cover with a towel and let it rest for about 40 minutes, until it rises and doubles in size.
- Place a pan over medium heat.
- Press on the dough to remove the air and cut into 6 equal sized pieces.
- Place pieces of dough on a lightly oiled working surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece of dough to a circle 20 cm in diameter.
- Cook the pita bread for 1-2 minutes on each side in the pan, until they puff up slightly.
This pita recipe has been adapted from http://www.akispretetzikis.com
Stuffed bread. Transform the usual bread dough into a savory meal that you can enjoy for brunch, lunch, dinner, at school or at work. Great idea for Easter picnics. Easy, flavorful, fragrant. Feel free to use different ingredients as options such mozzarella, bolognese sauce, bacon, sausage, salami, meatballs, peperoni etc.
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- In a large bowl stir yeast into 1 cup lukewarm water until dissolved. Let sit until small bubbles form around edges.
- Whisk in sugar &salt until blended.
- Gradually add flour and olive oil , mix with your hands until a soft dough forms . Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead in remaining flour, continuing to knead for about 10 min until the dough is very soft.
- Return dough to cleaned bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn out dough onto work surface and gently squeeze out air bubbles.
- Fill and shape as desired. Feel free to use different ingredients as options such mozzarella, cheddar cheese, Greek feta, bolognese sauce, mushrooms, bacon, sausage, salami, peperoni, asparagus, olives, meatballs etc.
- Brush every bread with olive oil . Bake in hot oven at 200°C (375° F) for about 20 min or until surface is golden brown.
Cyprus bread is more than food, is a religious expression.
Different types of bread are traditionally made for different occasions, weddings , easter , Christmas, communions, baptism.
Dr. Dorita Voskaridou is a researcher, author and founder of the Decorated Breads of Cyprus museum in Limassol.
Dorita’s book “To Ploumisto Psomi tis Kyprou” (The Decorated Bread of Cyprus) is a collection of historical and personal testimonies. Decorative breads for every occasion, based on various village designs have been re-worked by this talented lady.
“All the symbols came from the ancient times when people used to believe in 12 gods. There are symbols from ancient Greek pots. From excavations we then find the same symbols in bread.
There were Byzantine shapes and influences. Women in villages see icons of churches which inspire them to go home and make the bread. Every village has different kinds of symbols and every woman has a different, very personal style, for example one village may have the same symbol but each woman makes something different. Every woman has her own aesthetic.
Bread is the king of the house in Cyprus proverbs. It is very important still and is the main nutritional ingredient in our culture. In Cyprus’ popular traditions, bread on the table symbolised Jesus Christ himself. So nobody gets up from the table until the bread has been removed. The bread has to move first away from table,” says Dorita Voskaridou
I tried to reproduce one of these ancient and full of tradition shapes. I have no idea if it is a wedding, communion or easter bread. I choose it for the presence of the cross and the X of Xrist. (Χριστος in Greek language). So i think perfect for Xristmas.
Follow the instructions step by step. You will need 33 dough cords and a good amount of sesame seeds. Isn’t difficult as appears. Crunchy texture , delicate flavor. Enjoy a Merry Xristmas!
- 500 bread flour
- 250ml warm water
- 1/2 tablespoon dried yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a large bowl combine flour, olive oil, yeast and sugar. Add the water & salt. Mix well
- Knead the dough until is smooth and elastic. ( If the dough seems a little stiff add 1-2 tbsp water)
- Place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knock back the dough by gently kneading just few min. You only want to knock out any large air bubbles
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Now mould the dough into a 33 thin cords as in the pictures. Follow carefully the step by step instructions. Seal ends by pressing down firmly with your fingertips. Brushing with water, then sprinkling with sesame seeds
- Heat oven to 180°C / 350°
- Bake for 25-30 mins until golden
SOURCE: MARTHA STEWART LIVING, SEPTEMBER 2010
A mix of chopped and whole fresh basil transforms ordinary crackers into herb-infused snacks.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, plus 40 whole basil leaves
- Coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten for egg wash
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse flour, chopped basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add cream; pulse until dough forms.
Briefly knead dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; shape into rectangles, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a very thin rectangle (about 12 by 16 inches). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with salt. Press 10 whole basil leaves into top.
Bake until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Repeat 3 times with remaining dough, egg wash, salt, and whole basil leaves. Break into individual crackers using your hands.
Crackers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.