Lazarákia (“Little Lazaruses”) are small, sweet spice breads, made by Greek Orthodox Christians on Lazarus Saturday , the Saturday that begins Holy Week.
They are eaten to celebrate the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. They are shaped like a man wrapped in a shroud, supposedly Saint Lazarus of Bethany, with cloves for eyes.
They contain several sweet spices and are a fasting Lenten food, meaning that they do not contain any dairy products or eggs. For that reason, unlike the Tsourekia, they are brushed with olive oil instead of egg or butter for a gloss finish.
*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. mahlepi
*1/2 tsp. masticha
*whole cloves for the eyes & mouth
*olive oil for brushing
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, mahlepi, masticha and 6 cups flour and stir the mixture until creamy.
Slowly add enough of remaining flour to make a medium not sticky dough.
Divide dough into however many Lazarakia you’d like and roll into logs. Cut slits for arms and legs. Cross arms across chest.
Place the cloves making them look like eyes and mouth.
Place on slightly greased cookie sheets, sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover with towel and let rise for about an hour or until almost doubled in size.
Bake Lazarakia for 20-30 minutes or until golden.
When ready brush Lazarakia with some Olive oil.