Symbolic Foods of the Orthodox Faith
Altar or Oblation Bread
This bread must give the appearance of two combined loaves, which symbolizes the two natures of God. Divine and Human.
A special stamp is placed on the oblation bread that has different signs that represent different orders of heaven. The Three larger squares with the sign of the Cross and the inscription IC XC NI KA means Jesus Christ conquers. This comes from the vision that Saint Constantine the Great saw in the sky before converting to Christianity. To the left of the central square there is a triangle. This triangle represents Virgin Mary and the letters MPO-OY are inscribed. This means Mary the Birth Giver of God. On each side of this triangle are two spears. One of the spears symbolizes the spear used to offer the sponge, soaked with vinegar, to Jesus Christ. The other spear is noted in John 19:34 as ” one of the soldiers plunged his spear in Jesus side and immediately water and blood came out.” On the right side of the central square there are 9 small triangles, which symbolize the orders of the saints (that is: the prophets, the angels, the mercenaries, the martyrs, the fathers of the church, the saint of the day, the righteous and Saint John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great, who ever divine liturgy we are going to celebrate).
OBLATION BREAD RECIPE
(Yield: 3 oblation breads)
- 1 envelope dry yeast
- 2 cups water, lukewarm (or more if needed)
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- the religious seal.
Dissolve the yeast in a little water. In a large bowl place the flour, salt, diluted yeast and add water. Knead well and add more water, if needed, to form a smooth and rather firm dough. Cover the dough with a towel and blanket and let rise until double in size in a warm and humid room. Knead again and divide into 3 equal portions. Leave to rise for 10 to 15 minutes then split each ball into two balls. Leave to rise for 5 minutes and place the first ball on round 8-inch/20 cm. Floured pan. Then put the other half on the top of the first one and try to cover the surface of the pan, like the first one. Allow rising for approx. 45 minutes.
Preheat oven at 350oF/180oC. Before putting the pans into the oven put flour on the face of the bread and push the seal in the center of the dough deep and leave it to rise itself, then remove the seal slowly and carefully and put the pan into the oven. Bake it for around 1 hr until the bread becomes gold color. Always 1, 3 or 5 altar breads are made.
The Blessing of the five loaves service. This service originates from the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men, besides women and children, by Jesus Christ ” (Matthew 14:13-21) with five loaves of bread and two fish in the desert”. The faithful present five loaves of bread, wine and oil to the church in order to express their gratitude to God, for continues health, for successful operation, for their name Day or any thing of thanksgiving. They give to the priest the names of the living and the priest commemorates them during this special service. At the end of the service one loaf is given to the family and the others are cut and distributed to the congregation. The correct way to make 5 loaves is to make special bread, that is not a cake but in it has anise seed. In the US, people make cakes like the New Years Day cake and sometime put powder sugar on it. On the back side of the seal that we use for the Altar bread there is another smaller seal. That seal has to be used for the 5 loaves service bread.
ARTOKLASIA RECIPE #1
Preparation time: 2-3 hours. Cooking time: 20 minutes each
- 1/3 pound/150 gr. Yeast
- 3 cups warm water 110F, if it needs more
- 5 1/2 lbs. bread flour sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon anise-seed
Dissolve the yeast in a cup of warm water; add 2,3 spoons of flour. Mix the mixture with a wooden spoon and leave it to rise for 10 minutes until it has bubbles. In a large bowl put the rest of the flour. Open a hole in the middle of the flour and add the salt, anise seed, the raised yeast and the rest of the water, slowly add the flour from the sides and with your hand start kneading. Knead well and add water if needed, until it becomes smooth and rather firm dough. Cover it with towel and blanket and leave it to rise in a warm and humid room. Leave it for two hours until it doubles in size. Then, divide the dough into 5 equal pieces and make 5 round balls and put each one in an 8-inch tray to cover the surface of the tray. Leave them to rise and double in size. Put some flour and press the small seal deep and leave 5 minutes to rise by it self. Remove the seal carefully and put the tray in a preheated oven at 350F and bake 45-60 minutes until golden brown.
ARTOKLASIA RECIPE #2
- 5 pounds bread flour, sifted
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 table spoon machlep powder
- 1 table spoon mastic powder
- 1/3 pound yeast
- fresh sesame
Place flour into bowl, add wine, sugar, olive oil, salt, machlep and mastic powders and knead. Dissolve yeast into approx. 1cup lukewarm water. Add into mixture and knead well, adding as much lukewarm water as needed to form soft dough. Keep kneading for 15 minutes. Cover and let rise for 2-3 hours. Knead again. Lightly grease the five 8-inch round baking pans. Oil palms and separate dough into 5 round balls, shaping into 5 loaves. Place each loaf on the baking pan. Press dough to flatten loaf. Sprinkle with sesame. Place pans in a warm place until dough doubles in size. Preheat oven at 350F and bake for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown.
MEMORIAL CAKE (KOLLYVA)
- 1cup wheat (white, cleaned)
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup cleaned almonds
- 20 white almond candy
- Spices: small tea spoon of Cinnamon, Cumin
- More then a 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or baked flour or grated petit beurre biscuits or grated yellow chickpeas (straggalia. Lebleby)
- 1/2 cup black and yellow dried raisins
- Less then a full cup of confection sugar, powder sugar
We cover the wheat with water in a saucepan and let it boil. From time to time collect the foam with a spoon in the saucepan. When the wheat softens put it in a colander to drain.
On the table put a large towel and cover it with a cotton or linen cloth. Spread the drained wheat on it and leave it there for 3 to four hours to dry. If we leave it overnight, cover the surface with another cloth so it does not dry completely.
Crush the walnuts and mix them with the almonds, raisins and leave them in a bowl.
In a baking pan, bake using a low flame, the flour or the breadcrumbs or the thinly grated biscuit or the chickpea until becomes light gold or brown. To this baking pan add the cinnamon and the cumin if we wish or other ingredients of spices according the areas’ custom. Keep stirring as to not to burn it. Take a plate and spread the wheat along the bottom, which we have mixed with the almonds etc. with the mixture that we prepared. The top should be even and have the shape of an arch. Then on the top we pour the confection sugar, powder sugar and with the help of a napkin smoothen the surface. In the center put white almond cookies in the sign of the cross and all around the plate put like bottoms white almond cookies and some times if you find the silver color cookies. Take it that morning to the Church to be read for the memorial service or to the graveside for the Trisaghion. After the prayers are finished with the help of a spoon you mix everything in the bowl or plate and distribute it to the people.