What Clean Monday would be, without the traditional Lagana bread? This type of bread is a must and can't be excluded from Clean Monday's festivities. That's why I create a gluten-free Lagana so that I can also enjoy it on this special day.
Clean Monday (aka Pure/Ash Monday, or Monday of Lent) is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus and the first day of Great Lent for Orthodox Christians. The term Clean Monday refers to the absence of non-fasting foods and leaving behind sinful attitudes of body and mind.
People celebrate Clean Monday outdoors, usually in a picnic style. They eat Lagana, foods accepted for fasting, and shellfish. Flying kites is a custom that symbolizes reaching God. Nowadays, it is mainly a funny activity for kids.
What is Lagana?
Lagana is a type of flatbread made in Greece and Cyprus, only one day/year, especially for the beginning of the Great Lent.
It is an unleavened bread, typically prepared without the addition of yeast. The common shape of Lagana is flat and oval, and we always coat it with sesame seeds.
This specific type of bread has its roots deep in Greek History. Aristophanes mentions them in Ekklesiazousai using the phrase "Laganas are made". There is also the theory that Lagana is the bread that Israelites ate when they left Egypt.
Ingredients for the gluten-free Lagana
Flour: I use a mixture of gluten-free bread flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour. It is from a Greek company called Saint George's mills (Μύλοι Αγίου Γεωργίου). If you use any other flour just be sure that you measure the ingredients and use a combination of flours.
Honey: I always use natural sweeteners, and honey is my favorite. Traditionally, Lagana is vegan because it uses sugar. You can also make it this way.
Yeast: Originally, Lagana didn't contain any yeast. But nowadays most people use it to speed up the process. Ensure that your yeast is also gluten-free.
Psyllium husk: I use psyllium husk powder. If you have whole psyllium husk just add double the amount (8x2=16g). This ingredient acts like a gluten substitute.
Tahini: It adds so much flavor to Lagana bread and makes it very distinctive.
Salt: I use fine sea salt. Make sure that you use it separately from the yeast so that it doesn't slow it down and you can have a reduction in the volume of the bread dough.
Sesame seeds: Using white sesame seeds is the most common, but nowadays coating Lagana with black sesame seeds, or other types of seeds, is possible.
Tips & tricks
Use the Lagana bread that is left to make croutons. Cut the bread into small cubes, place them in a baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil and herbs of choice, and bake at 200ºC (400ºF) until crunchy.
When making the holes with your fingertips along the surface of the bread, be careful not to poke through the dough.
Use warm water to proof the yeast, but no extra warmth, or else you can kill it.
Make sure that the gluten-free flour that you use is recommended for yeast baking. That is the majority of the flour blend and needs to be a blend for bread and pizza dough.
Ensure that the yeast you use is fresh. Always proof the yeast so that you know if it is active or not.
Rise the Lagana bread in a warm place, but not too warm.
There are some yeasts that are not gluten-free. Be sure that the yeast you are using is.
In gluten-free baking, it is always best to measure the ingredients by weight and not by volume. It is more precise, and the end result is better.
How to serve the gluten-free Lagana
For the true Clean Monday experience, serve Lagana bread with:
- Olive oil
- Tomato with garlic and oregano
- Baba Ghanoush
How to store the gluten-free Lagana
Store Lagana bread at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.
Room temperature: Keep the bread at room temperature in a breadbox for up to 5 days.
Fridge: Store the bread, after it cools completely, in a ziplock bag, in the fridge, for up to a week.
Freezer: Slice the bread into pieces, and let them cool completely. Place parchment paper between the pieces, and place them in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw them at room temperature or warm them in a toaster.
Looking for another type of gluten-free flatbread? Try this:
Gluten Free Lagana
- mixer stand or hand
- 350 g bread flour mix gluten-free
- 100 g all-purpose flour gluten-free
- 1 teaspoon sea salt fine
- 60 g/¼ cup tahini paste
- 10 g active dry yeast gluten-free
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 8 g psyllium husk powder
- 10 g flaxseed meal
- 2 tbsp olive oil separately
- 550 g water warm
- 80 g sesame seeds raw
- In a bowl, pour ½ cup of water and stir the honey until dissolved. Add the yeast and mix. Set the mixture aside for about 5-7 minutes until the yeast is activated (bubbles up).
- When the yeast is frothy, add the psyllium husk powder and the flaxseed meal. Stir and let the mixture aside one more time until a gel is formed.
- In the mixer bowl, add the flours with the salt and mix until combined. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture. Using the mixer with the hook attachment, add the rest of the water and start mixing at low speed. Gradually increase to medium speed.
- When the whole flour is incorporated, pour the tahini and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix until they are combined, and the dough can be easily pulled through from the sides of the bowl. Always remember that it is a gluten-free dough, so it is stickier and it won't become a ball.
- Lightly dust a working surface with flour and place the dough. Shape it into a log and cut it in half.
- Place the first half of the dough on a baking sheet, and press down with oiled hands, into an oval shape flatbread, about 1 cm (0,4 inches) thick.
- Oil (with the rest of olive oil) or water your hands and brush the surface of the bread. Sprinkle the top with half of the sesame seeds.
- Repeat for the second piece of the dough.
- Cover the bread with a clean towel and let them rest for ~ 30-40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Using your fingers, make some holes on the surface of the bread (like you would do when making focaccia).
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the oven, let them cool a little bit, and serve.
Servings: 1 (102g) | Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 10.5g | Saturated Fat: 1.6g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 384mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 1.82g | Vitamin A: 8IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2.23mg | Manganese: 0.395mg | Copper: 0.263mg | Vitamin B1: 0.419mg | Folate: 104μg