Αncient Greeks colonized Southern Italy and Sicily between 800 to 500 b.C. and then in 146 b.C. the Romans conquered Greece. During these years the Romans were influenced by the Greek civilization, culture and among other things food.
Until today in some parts of Southern Italy they still speak a Greek ancient dialect and the word lagana is still used there, however, having the meaning of wide tagliatelle. Lasagna comes from this word. I wanted to mention this because most dictionaries such as the Merriam Webster stop at the Latin root and do not explore further the meaning of the words. Originally it was an unleavened bread but eventually some yeast was added.
I know that now this is not the time for lagana, as traditionally this wonderful bread is only baked once a year, on the first day of Lent of the Orthodox Easter, and I cannot understand why, as everybody is crazy about this bread.
I am submitting this recipe as well to Susan, of Wild Yeast, who is hosting the event Yeastspotting.
- 500 grams all purpose flour or bread flour
- 16 grams fresh yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- About 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- Disslove the yeast with about 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Add sugar and some flour to make a thick batter. Cover with cling film and a towel and set aside until it bubbles.
- Add the flour, salt and olive oil in a bowl and mix. Add the yeast and mix. Gradually add more lukewarm water and knead until the dough forms into a ball which does not stick to your hands.
- Flour your working surface and knead the dough.
- Cover and set aside until it doubles in volume.
- Knead again for a few minutes and form it into a ball. Then using a rolling pin give it an oval shape until it is about 2 cm thick.
- Grease a baking tin with olive oil and place the dough. Cover with cling film and a clean towel and set aside to rise.
- Wet your hands with some water and put some moist to the dough.
- Using your index finger, press with your fingers into the dough to leave small imprints all over the top, about every 3 cm / 1 inch. (I used the back of a wooden spoon as I have long nails). Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake in a preheated oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F for about 40 - 50 minutes or until golden colour.
As I said yesterday, when I made koulouria, I had made double the recipe as with the remaining dough I wanted to make one of our favourite flatbreads: Lagana but this time I decided to try something similar to focaccia.
I remembered seing some recipes of focaccia and one was with sun dried tomatoes and green olives. The last time I went to the supermarket I had bought some sun dried tomatoes for another recipe and still had some left. I did not have green olives but I still have lots of Kalamata olives, which were perfect when I made the Eliopsomo (Olive bread) or when I made the Olives and carrot bread stick rolls.
Focaccia style Lagana with Kalamata Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Dough (same as above or same as Koulouria Thessalonikis)
- 10 sun-dried tomatoes
- 15 Kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried rosemary or a sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- A pinch of coarse sea salt
Prepare the dough as above.
Cut the sundried tomatoes and olives into small pieces.
Add the olives and tomatoes to the dough, as well as the garlic powder, the rosemary, salt, oregano and thyme and knead for a few minutes.
Then with wet hands or with a brush, wet the surface of the dough and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Repeat on the other side as well.
Place in a greased baking tin (I used a 30 X 25 cm tin) and stretch the dough to fill in the tin. Cover with the towel and set aside to rise.
Bake in a preheated oven to 200 degrees C until crispy and golden brown, for about 1 hour, depending on your oven.
Both are lovely when eaten hot but as I baked quite a lot we ate the last piece today (five days later) and every day it was even better. It dried and was crispy (not hard) like a rusk with all those beautiful flavours in it.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,