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.
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!
- 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
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!