Lazarakia (λαζαράκια), meaning little Lazarus, are sweet, spicy small bread that are handmade on Lazarus Saturday, one week before the Greek Orthodox Easter. They represent the miracle of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, after four days in the tomb. They are shaped like boys with crossed arms on their chest. Also their bodies seem to be wrapped in burial clothes.
It is said that this tradition of baking lazarakia started in Cyprus where Saint Lazarus was the first bishop of the island.
Our favourite recipe below is from OrthodoxMom.com
- 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
- 12-14 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. aniseed or anise extract
if available you can also add:
- 1 tsp. mahlepi
- 1/2 tsp. masticha
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the 2 1/2 – 3 cups lukewarm water.
- Add sugar and salt and stire well.
- Add remaining water, oil cinnamon and 6 cups flour and stir the mixture until creamy.
- Slowly add enough of remaining flour to make a medium dough.
- Divide dough into however many Lazarakia you’d like and roll into logs. Cut slits for arms and legs. Cross arms across chest and pinch a head.
- Place on slightly greased cookie sheets, cover with towel and let rise for about an hour or until almost doubled in size.
- Bake loaves for 20-30 minutes or until hollow when tapped on bottom.