Clean Monday

Clean Monday lagana bread with whole-wheat zea (Triticum dicoccum) flour - Λαγάνα με αλεύρι ζέας (δίκοκκο σιτάρι) ολικής - Vegan in Athens

Lagana with zea flour and a secret to make the perfect bread

It seems impossible that a whole year has passed already, since I thought that the previous “carnival” period was only few months ago. Maybe it’s because I remember even the details of the films we watched those days, I remember one night that we decided to make a homemade vegan Baileys (always reminds me of carnival) and stay home instead of going to a party, the plain lagana bread we made for the Clean Monday, a long walk for shopping in Athens center (oops that was two years ago!!!).

So this year I decided to create new, beautiful, “carnival” memories and one of them is the preparation of lagana, which will not be an ordinary lagana for two reasons. The first is that I will prepare it with zea flour (or flour from Triticum dicoccum) that contain less gluten and is considered to be very rich in nutrients. The second reason is a secret for exceptional homemade bread based on a slow fermentation process that results in a bread with aroma, texture and flavor reminiscent of traditional grandma’s bread.

Clean Monday lagana bread with whole-wheat zea (Triticum dicoccum) flour - Λαγάνα με αλεύρι ζέας (δίκοκκο σιτάρι) ολικής - Vegan in Athens

So what is the secret? Fortunately there is not anything difficult or complex. It simply requires a little patience. Actually I use a small amount of yeast on the one hand and on the other hand I let the dough ferment at room temperature overnight, ie for 8-10 hours before molding the bread. This may seem a lot of time, but during that time the yeast, the fungus that ferments our bread, is going to eat some of the carbohydrates present in the flour, to multiply, to make our dough lightly sour and to produce all those chemical molecules that make the texture and taste of our bread unbeatable!

So if you decide to make your own delicious traditional lagana this year, you can prepare the dough on Sunday evening and bake the lagana on Monday morning letting the smell of freshly baked bread penetrate in your home.

I wish you a beautiful, bright and good Clean Monday and a peaceful Lent!

Clean Monday lagana bread with whole-wheat zea (Triticum dicoccum) flour - Λαγάνα με αλεύρι ζέας (δίκοκκο σιτάρι) ολικής - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) lukewarm water
  • 3/4 tsp level dry yeast
  • 4 3/4 – 5 cups (700-750 g.) zea flour total and a little extra for kneading
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • sesame and black caraway seeds for sprinkling

Method

1. In a cup put half of the warm water, yeast and a spoonful of flour and leave the mixture for 15-20 minutes in a warm place to activate the yeast. If the yeast is active you will notice that many dense bubbles will be formed on the water surface. Otherwise throw the mixture away and repeat the process with another sachet of yeast (yes I know that it is difficult to throw it away but you need an active yeast to make bread!).
2. In a large bowl or in the kneading machine mix the yeast mixture, the rest of the water, salt and sugar, and slowly add the flour, kneading constantly, until a soft dough is formed. Continue kneading for another ten minutes (if using kneading machine it takes less). The more we knead the better texture and elasticity the dough will have. Because zea flour contains less gluten the dough is not going to be as elastic as the dough that is made with plain wheat flour.

3. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a wet towel to protect the dough from dehydrating. Let it rise overnight (eight hours at least) at room temperature.
4. The next day, pour the dough on a floured surface and knead lightly folding it several times.
5. Form a ball and with a rolling pin roll out to form an oblong sheet 1 1/2 -2 cm thick. Form with your fingertips several small holes on its surface. Sprinkle with warm water and with sesame and caraway seeds.
6. Place in a warm place for 50 minutes to rise. For this step, I put the bread in the oven, set at 45 oC.
7. Bake at 200 oC for 35-40 minutes until lagana gets a slightly reddish brown color. Let it cool on a rack before cut. Enjoy!

Clean Monday lagana bread with whole-wheat zea (Triticum dicoccum) flour - Λαγάνα με αλεύρι ζέας (δίκοκκο σιτάρι) ολικής - Vegan in Athens

Facebookpinterestmail
Η λαγάνα της Καθαράς Δευτέρας - Pure Monday flat bread - Veganinathens.com

Lagana bread

Lagana is a type of flatbread that is traditionally baked in Greece only once a year, during the Clean Monday. Clean Monday is the first day of the Great Lent, a very important period for the Orthodox Church. Of course Clean Monday is part of the Greek customs and is celebrated by nearly everyone no matter if he or she is religious or not.

But let’s go back to our bread! Lagana was considered to be a symbol of self-restraint and it is said that many years ago it was prepared without any kind of yeast so as to remain flat after baking.

Nowadays, lagana is made with yeast –I don’t think that anyone would like to eat it otherwise- and its preparation together with other customs, signals the beginning of a fasting period which lasts 50 days, until Easter.

Every year, on Clean Monday, we bake our own lagana bread early in the morning and if the weather is sunny we go for a pic nic. The recipe is simple and it might remind you of the Italian focaccia.

Η λαγάνα της Καθαράς Δευτέρας - Pure Monday flat bread - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(for one big loaf)

  • 500 g bread flour
  • 7g dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200 ml lukewarm water (100 ml to activate the yeast and about 100 ml for kneading)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp black-caraway seeds
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) olive oil

Η λαγάνα της Καθαράς Δευτέρας - Pure Monday flat bread - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl with your hands or with the mixer using the dough hook attachment.
  2. Put the yeast in a cup with 100 ml of lukewarm water and 1-2 tablespoons of flour, stir and let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes. The water should be at a temperature of about 40 oC. After 15 minutes a thick foam will be formed on the surface of the mixture, which means that the yeast is active. Otherwise you should repeat the process with another package of yeast. Always make sure that the water is at the right temperature.
  3. Start kneading: Make a hole in the flour, pour in the yeast mixture and knead well. Gradually add the remaining water while kneading. Depending on the flour quality and the air humidity, you may need more or less water than indicated in the recipe. When a supple, smooth and soft dough that does not stick to hands has been formed stop adding water and knead for ten more minutes. If you are using a mixer 5 minutes are enough.
  4. Greaze the inner surface of a clean bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead and fold for several minutes and form the dough into a ball. Sprinkle some more flour on the counter and on the dough and using a rolling pin roll out the dough into a flatbread 1 ½ -3 cm thick, depending on how thick you want it to be after baking. Just remember that the bread will rise and double in size.
  6. Transfer the lagana on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Dip your hands in olive oil and with the tips of our fingers form some small holes on the surface. Sprinkle with the remaining oil and then with 3-4 tbsp of water. Sprinkle with some salt, the black-caraway seeds and the sesame seeds.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
  8. Bake at 220°C for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool.

Η λαγάνα της Καθαράς Δευτέρας - Pure Monday flat bread - Vegan in Athens

 

 

 

Facebookpinterestmail