The recipe is from prosphora.org, the only website exclusively devoted to Orthodox Christian Holy Bread. Thanks to my handy-dandy . . . Nutrimill (you thought: Notebook! didn't you? Oh, you know you did.) I was able to have fresh ground whole wheat and chickpea flours for this bread, which was a blessing because going 45 minutes across town in traffic to even find a Middle Eastern Grocery for chapati and besan flour was not going to happen.
This past fall my heirloom rose bushes were unexpectedly loaded with beautiful, fragrant blossoms. I jumped on the opportunity to make some rose water. It is the only flavoring called for in this bread, but almond, vanilla, or orange would be appropriate as well.
Andrew Troth of Mediterra Bakehouse gave me excellent direction. There is a crack that ran along the edges of some of my olive leaves and so I asked Andrew how to prevent that from happening next time.
The trick to decorative dough motifs on bread is to put the pattern on the bread after it has proofed, just before it goes into the oven. This keeps the decorative motif from shifting. To prevent cracking try a few little razor cuts along the edges of the decorative dough.If you take a visit over to Mediterra's webpage there are the most wonderful photographs of their morning meditation in dough. It just calls to me. There is something about bread that is so basic and humble and yet at the same time glorious. How you can take a few modest ingredients and turn it into a soul satisfying delight is a mystery (or at least the beginnings, you need a priest for the soul satisfying part). I know, some will scoff and say, "no, that's science." Actually, science can only observe and try to explain the chemical interaction of the yeast and sugars fermenting making alcohol and CO₂, raising the flour and chains of gluten proteins into something that once heated to an internal temperature of approximately 190°F gives you a tasty comestible. Others will point out that heat excellerates the activities of the yeasty-beasties (a very scientific term), causes the sugars to caramelize, steam introduced at the beginning of the baking yields a crisp crunch. And don't forget oven spring! Ok, maybe less mysterious, but it is still ripe with mystery to me. Did you know it is mentioned in Scripture 217 times?