Yesterday the fast was relaxed for the feast of Annunciation, the day we commemorate “the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb.” Even better, the feast fell on a Wednesday this year, so it’s one of the rare times wine and oil are permitted not only on a weekday during Lent, but on a Wednesday in general. I wanted to take full advantage of that!
A couple years ago I shared the recipe Fr. R and I used for Artoklasia bread, a sweet bread that is blessed and served on certain feast days. But what if…
3 C flour
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp anise seed
3 Tbsp vinegar
3 Tbsp gin*
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C cold water
1 1/4 C orange juice
1 C margarine, melted or extremely soft
For the soak:
1 1/2 C sweet red wine
1/2 C orange juice
*I couldn’t find masticha like we used in our bread, so I used gin for the pine taste. By the way, this is actually just another variation on my Lenten Cake recipe, it’s so versatile!
WARNING: This is not to actually be used for an Artoklasia service! Not that your priest would let you get away with that :)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add first four ingredients to a large bowl and mix with a fork. Make a well in the center, and pour in all wet ingredients. Mix just to combine. This recipe will make one 9×13″ cake or two 8″ round cakes. A large cake takes approximately 45 minutes to bake, smaller cakes about 25 (keep an eye on them and check the center with a toothpick when in doubt). Make sure you grease or line the cake pans.
Allow cake(s) to cool.
Combine 1 1/2 C red wine with 1/2 C orange juice.
Poke holes in the cake – I used a fork. Slowly pour the orange wine mixture all over the cake, giving it time to soak in, and making sure to distribute the liquid evenly between cakes if you made more than one. Chill cake in the fridge for at least half an hour.
When ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve immediately as the sugar will quickly begin to dissolve.
I meant to bring my little fine mesh strainer to help evenly and beautifully distribute the confectioners sugar over the top of the cake. I forgot it and had to use a wire colander with bigger holes…the confectioners sugar just kind of poured right through it!
The cake will be very soft, you can use an ice cream scoop to serve it.
I’ll tell you a story. I still remember the first time Fr. R made Artoklasia bread for us, it was for the vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil on Holy Saturday morning about six or seven years ago [actually it was EIGHT years ago, I can’t believe it]. There is a bottle of wine and a bottle of olive oil on the analogion with the bread while it’s being blessed (and wheat, in some traditions). In some places they give you a piece of the bread and little cup of wine, we just pour the wine over the bread and sometimes sprinkle it with confectioners sugar. Holy Saturday is a rare oil-free Saturday because we are keeping vigil, awaiting the Resurrection, so we just have a little bread and wine to hold us over. But that first Year of the Artoklasia someone made a mistake and drizzled the bread with olive oil before completely drenching it in wine and then covering it with sugar. The oil free business didn’t even cross my mind at the time – maybe I didn’t know about that then – and I just LOVED that bread.
The next year I was talking to an inquirer at coffee hour. I told her she had to go to the service on Holy Saturday morning because THE BREAD IS SO GOOD. When she walked away my sister wanted to know why, of all things, that was the one thing I thought to tell her about Holy Saturday. It does seem a little silly now, but that bread was good…and it is the inspiration for this cake.
P.S. The inquirer has now been a member of our parish for many years :)