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(Sweet Bread, NOT for Communion)
Note: This recipe was developed by me for use
in the Three Hierarchs Chapel at St. Vladimir's Seminary. You can reduce
it in proportion for your own use. I will include photos when
possible. What is striking about this bread is that the loaf will bake
brown while the dough decorations will bake white, which creates a striking but
very tasteful appearance.
flours can be obtained in Indian or Middle Eastern markets.
helps keep the dough dense but not soggy (along with a great flavor), while
is by far the finest grade of brown flour I
have come across. Other whole wheat flours don't compare. The flavor
is hard to describe, but everyone here approves. Best of all, it is lenten
and so it can be used year-round.
Thank you to Vicki Dean for giving me tips on
how bread is decorated in her home parish of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in
This recipe makes 10 loaves.
This photo should give you some idea of what you create using this
recipe. From left, a wheat stalk design, grape vines and olive
See diagrams at bottom of page to show you how to make these (it's
easier than it looks!).
(Chick Pea Flour) - 2 cups
(Whole Wheat Flour) - 4 cups
- Unbleached White Flour - ~12 cups, more if necessary
- Sugar - 2 1/2 cups
- Vegetable Oil - 1 cup
- Rose Water - 1 capful
- Active Dry Yeast - 1 1/2 Tbsp.
- Unbleached White Flour - 4 cups
- Vegetable Oil - 1/4 cup
- Baking sheets lined with parchment
- Rolling pin
- Wax paper
- Dump everything into a bowl, except the water, and
- Add water until you have a stiff bread dough. If you add too much
water, don't be afraid to add more flour. This isn't nuclear science.
- Knead the dough for 20 minutes.
- Set it aside to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until double in volume. Don't forget to cover the dough.
- While the bread is rising, mix the dough for the decorations. It
should be moderately dry. Let is set after kneading for 15
minutes. Make sure you knead it for 20 minutes so that is is nice and
elastic. Otherwise, it will be sheer agony to work with.
- After the decoration dough has set, cut a piece of
wax paper and set it next to your floured work area. Cut and equal
size piece of plastic wrap to act as cover.
- Roll out the decoration dough to the thickness of two nickels. Cut
out your decorations and set them on the wax paper, then cover with plastic
- Once the bread dough has risen, preheat the oven
- Take the dough out and punch it down.
- Shape the loaves into balls (x10) while working out all the air bubbles,
then arrange them on the baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between
- Pat them down so that they are not more than 1 1/2" high.
- Damped the outside of the bread, then lay the decorations on the
bread. Make sure the pieces of decorative dough have good contact with
- Cover each loaf with plastic wrap when you are finished decorating.
- Let the loaf set for 15 minutes before baking.
- Bake at
325° for 45-50 minutes.
Decorating Instructions (with diagrams)
- There are three kinds of decorations we use at the Chapel on our Artos: grapevines,
olive branches and wheat stalks.
- Shake a little flour on the wax paper, and make sure you lay your pieces
on the waxy side. Don't let them set for too long: dough can stick to
anything if it sits long enough.
- Keep your work covered with plastic wrap, otherwise it will get a
- You have the advantage over bread dough in that
this dough has no yeast, so it won't rise as you work with it and distort.
- Roll the dough to the thickness of two nickels.
- Shoe-lace strips of dough (not tennis shoe wide, but
thin) become stalks or vines to which fruit and leaves are attached. To make
small offshoots (tendrils in the case of grapevines), just cut a long notch
into the branch and stretch the piece out on the loaf. Curl it like a
grapevine tendril and stick it down.
- To make grapes, I punch the dough with a pen cap. If the dough
sticks in the cap, I blow through the hole at the top of the cap (make sure
you have an airhole to blow through).
- For the leaves, I make long lateral cuts through the dough, then turn
the blade and make another series of cuts creating a whole series of
diamonds (see diagram
- For grape leaves, cut a small diamond out of one long
end of a diamond. A few cuts along the side and tugging at the
corners will form the natural shape of the leaves. When sticking
leaves to the loaf, I run a knife along the vein lines of the leaf. It
not only helps it stick, but gives the leaf internal contours which make it
more realistic. Get a jar of grape leaves and unfold one if you need
help visualizing where to make the cuts.
- Olive branches are made with simple stems covered
with diamond leaves. Tug the leaves on the sides to
get rid of the smaller corners and so they have a rounded appearance.
Use small balls, slightly flattened, for olives. Don't try pushing in a
life-size ball of decoration dough: it will turn rock hard in the baking
process and later will trouble the birds it ends up being fed to.
- To represent a head of wheat, cut a 1/2" x 1 1/2" stripe. Cut off
the corners to make arrows out of both ends. Run the knife from the
middle to the top multiple times to make the "hairs" on the end of a wheat
stalk. Cut a thin strip of dough for the shaft and stick it on the
loaf. Stick the wheat head on top. Take your knife a cut a
series of 'V' down the rest of the wheat head, then cut it down the middle,
which will give you the appearance of grains.
- Keep your loaf covered when not working with it. Before you try to
stick something to it, make sure the surface is still tacky. Rewet if