Ritual Recipes – Ancient Greek Pelanos Bread Recipe For Demeter

ancient greece vegan pelanos bread

In Ancient Greece, secret rituals known as the Small Rites of Eleusis or Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries took place during the month of Anthesterion (February).

eleusinian mysteries

Ninnion Tablet discovered in the sanctuary at Eleusis (4th C BC) depicts elements of the Eleusinian Mysteries

These religious rites celebrated the myth of the goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone. We know so little of the Rites, as the participants were sworn to secrecy, but we do know they fasted in commemoration of Demeter’s fasting while searching for Persephone.

But I am here to talk of divine bread recipes as well as religious rites…

Why is the ancient Greek Earth-mother Demeter connected to making bread?

According to Greek Mythology, Persephone was abducted by Pluto, the chthonic god of the underworld. Demeter left the mount of Olympus, the home of the gods, and searched for her daughter on earth for nine days. During her quest she neither ate ambrosia nor drank nectar.


The etymology of the name Demeter has its origins in the Greek words δα (earth) and μήτηρ (mother), and means Earth–Mother. Demeter taught humanity the secrets of agriculture and the art of making bread. She first taught the secrets of agriculture and the art of making bread to the hero Triptolemus, then gave him her chariot drawn by dragons and lots of wheat in order to educate the whole of humanity. The meaning of Triptolemus’ name is “He who Pounds the Husks”.

After fasting, the participants of the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries ate Pelanos, a wheat and barley bread. Now I’ll guide you through the magical process of breadmaking with an easy Pelanos bread recipe.

Make this beautiful Pelanos bread for yourself…

pelanos bread recipe

Succumb to the magnetism of the secret rites, and feel the magic of turning water and flour into divine food!

Pelanos bread ingredients

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons barley flour
  • ½ teaspoon of instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ cup of warm water
  • 4 tablespoons of extra flour for dusting

How To Make Your Pelanos bread

  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Passive Time: 4 hours

In a bowl, stir the flour, the yeast and the salt together with the spatula and add the warm water. Keep stirring with the spatula until all the flour is moistened.

Tip the sticky dough onto a floured surface and knead it until the dough becomes smooth, which should take 2-3 minutes. When kneading, always sprinkle some whole wheat flour on your surface and your hands so that the dough does not stick. Transfer the dough ball into a floured bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rest at warm room temperature for 3 hours until doubled in size.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface. Flour your hands as well as the dough and fold the dough over 2-3 times (a maximum 10 times if the dough is too sticky). Fold the dough over softly, with no added pressure.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and dust it with extra flour. Place the dough ball to prove for a further hour until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230°C or 450F. Place a baking dish filled with hot water on the bottom of the oven. Steam is crucial to making a crusty loaf of bread.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish filled with water.

Bake at 220°C for another 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.