Prosphora (Communion Bread)
A religious seal (sfrayitha) stamps a special design on the prosforo before baking. During preparation of the Eucharist, the priest conducts the proskomithi in which he first cuts out the center of the stamped design that says "IC,XC, NIKA (Jesus Christ Conquers). It becomes the Body of Christ (the Lamb). Then the large triangle on the left is cut in honor of the Virgin Mary. The nine small triangles on the right are cut to commemorate the angels, prophets, apostles, holy fathers and prelates, martyrs, ascetics, holy unmercenaries, Joachim and Anna, and all saints, including the saint of the day's liturgy. The last cuts are tiny squares to remember specific names of the living and the dead.
The sfrayitha has two sides. One side features the full seal described above, and the other side has a smaller circle with the letters IC XC NIKA. When a large number of people are expected for communion, prepare extra bread, making imprints with the small seal around the large circle or on separate loaves. (Purchase the seal at the church bookstore.)
Take the prosphora to church with a list of names for the
priest to mention during the Divine Liturgy. Put the first
names of the living in one column of your note (including
those who have baked the bread, and others you want
remembered) and the names of any deceased in another
column. The priest cuts the prosforo in their honor and
recites their names during the service.
1/2 cup luke warm water
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast
1 cup water
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water with sugar and let rise until bubbly. Mix liquid ingredients. Slowly add 3 cups flour, while continuing to mix. Work the sticky dough until it forms a loose ball. Turn out on a floured surface and add additional flour until a stiff dough is formed. Knead a few minutes. Make two balls, and place one on to of the other in a cake pan that has been floured, not greased. (The double layer represents the dual nature of Christ.) Press out to edge of pan. Sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Place the sfrayitha in the center and press down as far as possible. Remove seal and make holes about an inch apart with a toothpick around the edge of the design. Cover the bread with a dry cloth, and let rise in a warm lace until double in size. Open the holes with a toothpick again. Before baking make the sign of the cross over the bread and say the “Lords Prayer” and/or a short prayer for those for whom you are baking the bread. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. Reduce oven to 250 degrees and bake another 30 minutes or until hollow when tapped.
Above recepie taken from A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America by Marilyn Rouvelas.
Recipie of Yiota Chatos of St George Community.
An Offering to God
by Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div.