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  • Writer's pictureAkis

The Greek focaccia

Greece’s carnival season is about to end in the coming weekend and directly after begins the longest and most important fasting period for Eastern Christianity. The latter lasts for almost fifty days and it’s intended to prepare the believers for the greatest feast of the year, Easter.

The fasting period starts next Monday, known also as the “Clean Monday”. The term refers to the need to leave behind sinful behaviors and non-fasting foods. On that day, which is a public holiday, Greeks traditionally visit the countryside to enjoy a picnic with friends. They eat typical foods for the occasion, among them a bread known as lagana.

Lagana is a flatbread with its main characteristics being the shape (rectangular or oval), the impressing fingertips plus the plenty of sesame seeds that cover the whole surface. Simply speaking, you can just call it a sesame focaccia.

Even though on that day the shops are closed, the bakeries are open only in the morning, having baked during the night enough laganes to meet demands.

Lagana is traditionally eaten together with taramosalata, which is a spread made of salted and cured fish roe (typically from cod) blended together with olive oil, lemon juice, and a starchy base, usually bread soaked in water.

Apart from making the classic version that contains only sesame seeds as toppings and maybe drizzles of olive oil, the baker can use the imagination to create alternative types, using a variety of toppings or also fillings. For the occasion of this post, I made this week two versions of lagana, a slightly sweet one, and a savory one that fits perfectly with taramosalata.

For the sweet one, I simply incorporated into the dough a blend of raisins (sultana plus black). For an extra touch, I included also hazelnuts. It came out fine and it can be eaten as such or combined with matching spreads, like tahini, peanut butter, or honey.  

The savory version included in the dough a mix of sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers. I have to say, that taste- as well as structure-wise, this was one of the best flatbreads I’ve ever made!!


Sourdough lagana

  • 250g all-purpose flour

  • 150g hard (durum) wheat flour*

  • 80g active sourdough

  • 290g water

  • 40g extra-virgin olive oil

  • 5g salt

* In Greece known as yellow flour from hard wheat

For the classic version

  • sesame seeds

  • olive oil for drizzling


For the savory version

  • 100g olives (peeled)

  • 100g dried tomatoes (either preserved in oil or, if dry, soaked for a few hours in water)

  • 40g capers

  • olive oil for drizzling


 For the sweet version

  • 100g raisins (soaked for a few of hours in water)

  • 50g toasted hazelnuts or any other nuts (optional)

- Mix the flours, water, and sourdough in a bowl until the flour is fully hydrated. Cover and let rest for 30 min.

- Add the salt and olive oil, and knead until fully incorporated into the dough. Cover and let rest for another 30 min.

- Perform a couple of stretch&fold rounds every 15 min.

- Transfer the dough onto a wet surface to prevent sticking and stretch it to open into a rectangle. Spread the rest of the ingredients depending on which version (savory or sweet) you make.

- Fold the dough like an envelope to enclose the ingredients and place it back into the bowl.

(For the classic version, you can omit this step)

- Perform again a few rounds of stretch&fold every 15 min.

- Cover and let the dough ferment at room temperature until it grows ca. 50% more of its original volume. This depending on temperature and sourdough activity might take between 5-8 hours.

- Transfer the dough to the fridge and leave it there overnight.

- The next day transfer the dough with the aid of a spatula onto a well-floured surface, and then onto the baking tray which is covered with a baking sheet.

- Stretch the dough carefully so as not to degas it into a rectangle shape that fits nicely in the pan.

- Let it rest for 30 min, drizzle some olive oil (sprinkle plenty of sesame seeds for the classic version), and bake in a preheated at 220°C oven for ca. 40 min, or until the lagana gets a nice brown color and the kitchen smells like heaven!


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