How to make a good seal on Prosphoro (Offering Bread) for Orthodox Christian Churches

The Prosphoro (Offering Bread) is a very simple recipe. Flour, Salt, Yeast and Water. You will find different combinations of these ingredient quantities posted in various cookbooks and on-line. All will make a fine Offering Bread – but, the trick is making a really good seal on the bread! One that doesn’t disappear in the leavening and baking process. The seal I use to make the impression on the bread is a plastic one that I bought many many years ago.

Some tips are:

  1. Assemble your loaf according to your recipe.
  2. Hand Knead the dough for 10 minutes! I do not use a dough hook and a mixer, but I am sure it would be fine if you like to use that.
  3. Place in a bowl and cover with a tea cloth in a warm place for One (1) hour.
  4. Punch down
  5. Hand Knead AGAIN for 10 minutes and form into a rounded ball. Use a very light dusting of flour on the top of the loaf and the Seal itself and place the bread dough in the very lightly floured pan you will bake it in.
  6. Press the Seal STRAIGHT DOWN HARD! — all the way to the bottom as much as you can — this removes air bubbles under the seal.
  7. Use the tip of a knife and place it under a corner of the seal to release the suction so the seal pops off.
  8. Use a toothpick and prick all around the circle of the seal to remove any air bubbles.
  9. Also use a toothpick or a needle and prick all around the bread to remove any air bubbles. I find the toothpick, although it leaves a bigger dent, does the better job of eliminating bubbles and helps to keep the integrity of the seal in place.
  10. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes only — this is important! You do not want to exceed the 30 minutes on the second rise because, during the baking process, your bread will “jump” in the oven to a nice rounded loaf. (If you over-proof and then the bread jumps in the oven, your seal integrity on the finished loaf will be poor).
  11. In a 350 degree preheated oven, bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the amount of flour you use. If you are using a 5 cups of flour recipe to make 1 loaf – the time at 350 degrees is 40 minutes.