This recipe for Prosphora yields 2 large loaves. Adjust accordingly depending on what your parish may need.
Place yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of warm water (105-115 degrees F) and 1/2 cup of the flour. Whisk together gently with a non-metal whisk or plastic fork. Let this mixture sit for approximately 10 minutes - it will start to bubble and "activate" the yeast. The yeast will start to smell and will "bloom" or change in appearance - grow, bubble, etc.
Add two cups of warm water to the activated yeast mixture. Then add 5 1/2 cups of flour and sprinkle the one teaspoon of salt over the flour. Start by stirring with a substantial wooden spoon, or alternatively, use your hands. If your dough continues to stick to your hands and the bowl, add flour one handful at a time until you can scoop the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface.
Knead until the dough is smooth and firm, adding flour by the handfuls until it no longer sticks to your hands. This is the hardest part - finding the "fine line" of not too sticky, not too dry. As you bake more and more, you will find that you feel when you reach this point.
Knead dough for approximately 10-15 minutes until the dough stays smooth and pliable. Then form into a large ball and place back into your mixing bowl. Cover with a thin towel and place in a warm area of your house or kitchen to rise. This first rise can take 60-90 minutes. But start peeking at 30 minutes, since humidity and weather can affect rise time. Your ball should double in size.
After your dough has doubled, remove from the bowl and gently knead again, only about five minutes this time. You are basically just punching down the air and redistributing any bubbles with this kneading. Then, form your dough into a round and cut into two equal halves.
Generously flour the bottom of our pan. You can use either 8" or 9" pans, or 8" or 9" pie plates. Non-stick or glass. Do not use foil/disposable pans or pans with quick release handles; they will stick or leave the imprint of the handle in the bread.
Place one half of the dough shaped into a ball, in each pan and press to evenly fill the pan. Next, press your seal into flour. Then firmly press your seal down into the middle of the dough. The seal will go deeply into the dough. Pull the seal out gently. Then, using a toothpick, press holes into all corners of the "Lamb" portion of the seal, and all around the outer blank edge of the dough, approximately 12-16 holes. This allows steam to escape while the bread bakes, keeping the seal intact and not lifting the seal off the bread. Also, using a sharp knife, cut just into the bread all around the outer edge, just at or below the edge of the pan. This allows the bread to rise upward uniformly while baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake loaves for 25-20 mintes. Bread is finished when it's just starting to turn brown and has a nice thump when you flick - no give or squish.
Remove the loaves from the pans immediately and cool on racks. If you do not have racks, cool the loaves on sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. DO NOT cool on towels - towels absorb steam and moisture and make the bottom crust soggy.
When loaves are COMPLETELY cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil. If you need to bring bread to church while it is still warm, please wrap loosely in towels only, this will allow the bread to finish cooling and not trap the moisture.
Finally, include a note for the priest saying that you have made the bread. The first time you make bread, be sure to include a list of commemorations - both Orthodox living and departed, for the priest to using during the Proskomedia. The priest will keep your commemorations list and refer to it each time you bake. You can update your list any time by getting it from the priest, or simply turning in a new list.