Let me introduce you lagana, the Greek flatbread that we only bake once a year. Lagana is baked for Clean Monday, the first day of the Great Lent.
It’s all too Greek for you eh? I totally understand. Let me explain.
What is Clean Monday?
Clean Monday is the first day of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, also known as the Great Lent. It’s a 40 days period dedicated to fasting and “cleaning the spiritual house” in order to prepare for Easter.
That’s enough for today, let’s go back to baking.
What is lagana?
Lagana is a Greek flatbread baked for Clean Monday. Traditionally, lagana was prepared without any yeast, unleavened. It is typically flat, oval-shaped, with surface decorated by impressing fingertips. Sesame seeds, mainly white, are a common topping, and it may also be topped with other herbs, and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil.
Tips for making lagana
Lagana is easy to make, almost fail-proof. But like any dough, this one needs attention in the following:
- Texture of the dough: Whether you decide to knead the dough with your hands or in the mixer keep in mind that we need to come up with a dough that will stick to the hands. In order to touch it you have to dust your hands with flour or some olive oil.
- Yeast: It is recommended to prepare your lagana dough in a warm environment. Also, use lukewarm water in order to activate the yeast. This will lead to a faster activation of the yeast but also to the rising of the dough.
- Salt: Salt is not a friend of yeast, so it should be added towards the end.
- Size of the lagana: If you want a puffier lagana, then slightly reduce the recommended by me dimensions of the flat bread and increase the baking minutes.
Lagana, the Greek flatbread
- 550 gr all-purpose flour
- 350 ml lukewarm water
- 10 gr dry yeast
- ¼ tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp water, room temperature
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- sesame seeds, white or black
- In the mixer bowl add the water, yeast and sugar and mix.
- Wait for 20 minutes until the yeast is activated. After making sure that the yeast is activated (bubbles should have formed) add the flour and oil and beat in the mixer with the hook for about 5-7 minutes. At first at low speed and then increase the speed.
- Add the salt after 3-4 minutes of kneading. Do not add salt from the beginning because it will kill the yeast.
- Knead for another 3-4 minutes and then dust your hands with some flour in order to remove the dough from the bowl. We want the dough to stick to the hands. Put some oil in the mixer bowl and return the dough.
- Sprinkle the bowl with olive oil, add some on the top of the dough, cover with a bee paper and set aside until the dough has doubled (about 1 ½ hour).
- Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal parts. Roll oute the dough to a 40*20 rectangle. Use a rolling pin if you wish.
- 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. In order to give the lagana its characteristic appearance use your fingers to make indentations all over the dough.
- Set them aside for 20 minutes, so they can rise again.
- When they have risen, bake the lagana in a preheated oven at 220*C. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
So this was my recipe for the Queen of Lent, the lagana, an easy to make flat bread. Don’t forget to pay attention to the temperature of the water and at the time of the addition of the salt. It’s almost mandatory to make taramosalata when baking Greek flat bread, find more here.
Would love to hear your favorite recipes for the period of the Lent. I love making some pasta with octopus, you can find the recipe here.