After making the most recent episode for Orthodox Christian Cooking Show on how to make sourdough prosphora, I realized I omitted some details which have become of concern to some who some who watched the video.
First let me say the following., the prosphora we use today for the Divine Litrugy does not look the same, nor is it prepared the same way, with the exception of perhaps using the same ingredients, as it looked or was prepared during the time of Saint John Chrysostom.
I feel that I must address two of the most common objections to making sourdough prosphora, or perhaps just to the way I do it.
1. Some say that by using sourdough starter one introduces unknown or perhaps foreign ingredients into the recipe. It may be true if the sourdough starter you are using consists of other ingredients than flour and water. Make sure you use a starter that is fed with flour and water only.
2. On the use of boiling water. Some recipes call for scalding of the portion or of all of the flour before mixing the dough. Which I have done on occasion or two. Having baked more than a few loaves of bread in my life I understand why it is done. It is done to dramatically change the crumb and taste of prhosphora. Scalding portion or all of the flour will produce a crumb that is chewy and slightly rubbery regardless of the proofing time. It also accentuates the sugars in the flour making the prosphora taste sweet without actually adding any sugar. With the sourdough starter as your leavening agent, the rubbery/chewy crumb is achieved by long proofing time and lactic acid (lactobacilli to be more specific), a byproduct of fermentation and they are abundant in the sourdough. The sourdough prosphora will not be as sweet, it it will still taste very good. I also heard a theory that scalding the flour extends the shelf-life of the prosphora – I am yet to see any convincing proof of this theory.The bottom line is that not every prosphora recipe calls for scalding of the flour. And if you don’t do it, your prosphora is as good as of those who do it.
One of the most important points we must remeber, while striving for perfection in making of the prosphora is a good thing. It is the Holy Spirit that makes our offering perfect on the altar during the Divine Liturgy. So in this respect your prosphora is just as good as mine.