Food is a major part of our life; without its noursihment we die. As Christians we know that Christ is the Bread of Life. He gives Himself as food to nourish us and to give us life, His Life. This is a great Mystery of the Church and it is the core of the Divine Liturgy. We offer physical food, bread, and Christ transforms this and offers it back to us as Heavenly food.
Below is a recipe of how we can prepare bread (prosphoron) for this offering and Mystery.
Recipe for Prosphoron
1 pkg. compressed or dry yeast
2 ½ cups of water
2 tsp. salt
6 ¾ to 7 cups of flour
Dilute yeast in water. Add salt, then half of flour and stir. Mix remainder of flour with hand until dough is firm. Knead, until dough is smooth. Divide dough and place in 8, 9 or 10 inch cake pans that have been floured only. Do not grease pans. Keep in mind that dough should be smoothed out to cover the bottom half of the depth of the pan. (See helpful hints below.) Take religious seal and dip in flour, shaking off any excess flour that may accumulate and press seal firmly in centre of dough. Remove seal and let dough rise until it is almost doubled in bulk. Remember, dough will rise in oven and too much rising can erase seal from the dough. Take a toothpick and make 5 or 6 pricks around the outer edge of the seal before baking. Bake in 400 degree (F) oven for approximately 30 minutes or until done. Wrap in a clean cloth while cooling so crust will soften.
There are two methods that can be used when placing and smoothing dough out in cake pans:
- Divide dough for each Prosphoron into two portions and flatten the dough in two layers in the cake pan, one on top of the other;
- After you have shaped the dough in the pan, wait until it has risen then cut a line with a paring knife in a circular motion around the outer edge of the risen dough in the pan.
The Christian message of everlasting life and hope is symboliclly represented by the white mound of Collyva. This symbolic custom is based on the Scripture concerning eternal life: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit'. John 12: 24.
- 1 kg whole wheat;
- 4 bay leaves;
- 1 dessert spoon salt;
- 2 cups plain flour;
- 2 tablespoons runny honey;
- 1/2 kg walnuts or toasted almonds, or a mixture of both;
- grated rind of two oranges;
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon;
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice;
- 1 dessertspoon ground ginger;
- 1 heaped teaspoon grated nutmeg;
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves;
- 1 cup sultanas
- 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds;
- 1 cup promegranate;
- 1 packet vanilla wine biscuits (crushed);
- 1 kg icing sugar.
Toasted or sugared almonds, ground walnuts and edible silver dragees, pomegranate.
Start the preparation of Collyva two days before they are needed. Sort through the wheat three times removing all foreign particles i.e. husks, stones and grasses. Wash the wheat well in warm water. Fill a saucepan with hot water, add the wheat, cover and leave to soak overnight.
Next day drain and rinse in warm water then fill the saucepan with hot water, add the wheat and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and replenish with hot water once again. Bring to the boil, add bay leaves and simmer for one hour. Turn heat off, stir in salt and leave covered for 4-6 hours, so the wheat grains bloom. Rinse well in cold water, drain and spread on a lint free cloth or a sheet. Leave for several hours until wheat is relatively dry but still moist inside.
Meanwhile bake plain flour in the oven until a light golden colour. Stir often to break up the lumps and to ensure an even colour. Remove from oven and while still warm add the honey and incorporate into the flour with fingertips or in a processor until the mixture becomes fine.
In a large bowl, place the wheat, nuts, orange rind, pomegranate, spices, sultanas and sesame seeds. Place mixture into a dish and mound. Compact weell as you mound. Sprinkle with the cooked flour and press well. Do the same with the biscuit crumbs making sure that none of the wheat is visible. Sprinkle thickly with icing sugar and again pat down well coating to a thickness of about 1 cm.
With this method the Collyva can be quite safely decorated the evening before they are needed. Dampness does not come through the icing sugar.
Using either toasted or sugared almonds, make a cross on the centre of the mound. To the left of this, make the intial of he Christian name of the deceased and on the right, the intial of the surname. Decorate the rest of the platter as desired. The initials of the deceased are not necessary when making collyva for a funeral.
- Always use warm or hot water while rinsing and cooking the wheat. Cold water sets the starch and the wheat will not bloom;
- Never let the wheat come into contact with sugar or icing sugar while assembling as it will release too much liquid and become sloppy.
The usual times to offer individual memorials are the third, nineth and the fortieth day following the death, at three months, six months, nine months, the first, second and the third anniversary and the two Saturdays of Souls. Traditionally, the Orthodox remember the dead on Saturday, the day Christ lay in His tomb.