Eaten only once a year on Clean Monday or the official first day of the 40-day fasting period known in Greek as Sarakosti, different variations of Lagana bread are made in various regions of Greece. Lagana is a Clean Monday staple on any Greek table on this day. Folklore warns that this bread should not be cut with a knife, but instead torn piece by piece by hand. This recipe is adapted from Diane Kochilas’ best selling Greek cookbook “The Food and Wine of Greece.”
3 envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
7 to 8 cups bread flour
2 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp. salt
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Prep Time: 210 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 230 minutes
In a medium work bowl, dissolve the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the flour in the warm water. Let stand covered for 15 minutes or until the mixture starts to foam and bubble.
In a large work bowl, combine 7 cups flour with the salt. Make a well in the center with your hand and pour in the oil and the yeast mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are combined.
Turn dough out on to a counter or table dusted with flour and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough feels smooth to the touch but not sticky.
Shape the dough into a ball, brush it with oil and allow it to rise in a covered bowl for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and knead it for another 6 or 7 minutes. Shape it into 2 equal loaves. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on to two lightly oiled baking sheets into flat ovals about 15 inches long and about 6 inches wide.
Brush with oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and allow to proof (rise) again until a finger poked in the bread leaves an indentation without springing back. Preheat oven to 450 degrees during the final rise.
Using your index finger, poke holes across the surface of the bread (about every 2 inches). Bake for 15 – 20 minutes