According to our faith, the definition of HOLY is "set aside for God".
Eg. our bible is a holy book. We treat it with respect. Icons are windows into the other reality. They're special. The people they depict are beloved and their images are venerated (not worshipped).
Similarly all the items and utensils we use for the preparation of prosphoro are 'set aside' to be used only for this holy purpose. We try to never use these utensils for general cooking or anything else. It is best if possible to store them in a separate container, to be brought out only when preparing prosphoro.
The traditional way people set about this work, is as follows:
Firsly, the kitchen is cleaned thoroughly.
We bathe and and put on clean clothes, an apron and headscarf or covering before commencing.
All the while, from the beginning of the preparations, a mindful and prayerful attitude should prevail.
Once the utensils are set out ready to start, a candle is lit and incense is burned while prayers are recited or read out, or a recording of a prayer service is played. In monasteries, one of the monastics reads or chants prayers or psalms or the supplicatory canon to the Theotokos. Alternatively the Jesus prayer is recited continuously.
"Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me"
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE STARTER
*FLOUR *WATER *GLASS JAR *KITCHEN SCALES
*TABLESPOON *FORK *ELASTIC BAND *BLESSED-BASIL *A COPY OF APOLITIKION OF THE PRECIOUS CROSS
Go straight to "recipe proportions"
The flour should ideally be the same flour you intend to use to bake your prosphora, organic, unbleached and high in protein (over 12%). These are variously called "bakers"or "yellow" or "hard" flours.
Non organic and especially bleached flours have had most of the wild yeasts and bacteria decimated by the chemical processes they're subjected to, and will not likely yield a good leaven. ALWAYS sift your flour through a fine mesh sieve to ensure it is free of any insects or impurities.
The water should be free from chlorine. Bottled spring water is good. Tap water provided the chlorine has been boiled out of it or aired overnight should be fine. Do not use distilled water.
The glass container needs to be spotlessly clean. Its best to have a tall round jar with vertical sides and a lid with about 700mls capacity
Kitchen scales - best to have digital scales zero to 5kg, in 1 gram increments.
The basil brought home from the service of the elevation of the Precious Cross has been dipped in holy water. It can be kept in a vase with water until you are ready.
The elastic band is placed at the level of the mixture and indicates any rise.
Read how to start your starter/leaven here
making & baking
*FLOUR *WATER *STARTER *SALT *MIXING-BOWL *TABLESPOON *PLASTIC BAGS *TEA TOWELS *ROLLING PIN *SKEWER *BAKING PAN *SCALES *BEESWAX/CANDLE *CARVED WOOD SEAL *ICON *CENSER *PRINTED PRAYERS *BAKING DIARY
Go straight to "recipe proportions"
We've covered the flour and water here. Your starter should be active and vigorous. It can come straight from the fridge or be given a quick feed several hours before use.
All your gear should be clean and preferably used only for baking prosphoro. Hopefully your kitchen is spotless and you're also clean inside and out. (Confession, prayer and bathing/clean clothes & headscarf).
Make sure your oven has been cleaned and free of the odours from last week's lamb roast.
Its best to use round aluminium baking pans, with tall sides. Watch how to wax your baking pans here.
Keep a corner of your preparation bench free for the candle, the icon(s) and the printed prayers. I like to have Eikona's supplicatory canon to the Theotokos playing while I knead.
Keeping a baking diary is indispensable if you want to improve your baking. Make detailed notes and take pictures of every aspect of your prosphoro preparation and baking. Successes can then be repeated and failures avoided.
The use of each item listed above will be covered in STAGES under Make & Bake