Thursday, August 2, 2012

Baking prosphora tonight

With the first Divine Liturgy since June scheduled for Saturday in Hattiesburg at the Holy Cross Mission, I am once again baking prosphora.  The process begins with prayer and preparation (shooing the animals out of the kitchen, etc.) and Official Wife Tina shall be photographing.  The goal today is to make one ten-loaf batch (five for Saturday, five for the freezer).  The recipe is a basic 70% hydration french-style bread, meaning white whole wheat flour (unenriched, unbleached, unbromated), bread yeast, sea salt, and water.  Nothing else.

In the Russian style, our loaves have two halves, and are circular.  The top half is traditionally slightly smaller than the bottom half, and the seal IC XC/NIKA (literally, Jesus Christ Conquers) is impressed into the surface of the top half.  The loaves should be fully cooked, but not browned.

At least one of the loaves should have an intact seal for the preparation of communion.  After baking, the loaves are prepared for the Eucharistic service during the Proskomide service, which immediately precedes the Divine Liturgy and in the OCA typically occurs while the Reader is chanting the Third and Sixth Hours.

I will explain the order of Divine Services in a forthcoming post; for our purposes, it is enough to note that chanting the Third Hour takes about ten minutes, and chanting the Sixth Hour takes about ten minutes.  Proskomide takes about fifteen minutes to complete, and occurs behind the iconostasis on a special table set back and to the left of the altar table (liturgically speaking, in the Northeast corner of the church building).

It appears I will have to explain church architecture in a future post as well.  I think I will solicit a guest blog on that subject from Dr. John Mark Nicovich of William Carey University.

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