2015 Lenten Potluck #5: Artoklasia Cake for Annunciation

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…

Artoklasia Cake
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
olive oil
confectioners sugar

*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 :)

Artoklasia Bread and a snack break at Little Africa Ethiopian Cuisine

I love my job. Earlier this week I got to spend half the day in our St. Euphrosynos (evFRO-see-nos) kitchen with Fr. R baking Artoclasia bread for the Dormition.

This is my favorite stand mixer. Watch how much stuff it can hold, with room to spare:

10 lbs all purpose flour
2 sticks margarine, room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups orange juice, extra pulp, room temperature
2 cups Crisco oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp masticha (we used the syrup-type stuff in a jar)
2 Tbsp anise seed
6 packets of yeast or 12 tsp of yeast (or 4 Tbsp of yeast)
5 cups of water at 130 degrees Fahrenheit

We made it a little differently than the written recipe. Basically, we just put everything in the bowl of the stand mixer, and then…

We mixed it.

We mixed it until it was shiny, smooth and elastic. Approximately 10-15 minutes.

Then we turned it out into a very large bowl,

and marked it with a J : )

We covered the bowl with plastic wrap and stuck it in a warm place to rise while we went out to lunch at my favorite restaurant.

A combo platter at Little Africa. Clockwise from the bottom: lentils, alicha, shiro, soy curry and split peas. In the center going clockwise are beets, collard greens & tomato salad.

The best part is eating with your hands using the injera bread.

Injera is made with teff flour which gives it a kind of a sour flavor. All the air bubbles make it kind of look like a pancake, but it’s more dense and slightly sticky. We ate it all.

Back in the kitchen, we found the dough doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 325, perhaps lower if using a convection oven. The instructions say 295 “if using a school oven.” So if you’re a lunch lady, turn it down.

I love punching the dough, I don’t know why. But you know how it usually kind of deflates? This one didn’t.

It just looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy’s belly button.

Fr. R made 1 lb balls

then I cut them in half and we rolled them out…

and cut out a perfect circle using an old coffee tin.


Rub a little water on the bottom round, and place the other on top. It’s probably easier to do this right on your baking sheet.

This is a seal from Fr. R’s collection. I like the little skull that represents Adam.

Flour the seal really well. You have to press VERY hard – press and press and press!! And then press some more. Afterwards, gently pull up on the seal, wiggling it a little.

This is a pretty good seal.

We use a wooden skewer to poke a few holes in the bread, to keep it from getting bubbles and ruining the seal.

Here’s our first loaf, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. If you do the loaf on the counter or something and have to move it, the loaf might get all scrunched up.

We kept the loaves covered with plastic wrap until we filled the whole baking sheet.

Here are our loaves baking at various stages. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

The finished loaves.

I rubbed a little flour over the seal so it would show better.

We took some of the scraps and made random shapes for ourselves.

So, normally you would pour wine over the bread and sprinkle it with powdered sugar…

We didn’t do all that for our snack, but we did want to try it with the wine. We used the cheapest bottle around.

but we went all out on the styrofoam cups!

Tear. Dip. Eat. Any questions?