Lazarakia: Celebrating Easter with Traditional Little Lazarus Buns

 Greek Orthodox Easter is full of beautiful traditions. One of them is making lazarakia on Lazarus Saturday, the Saturday that the Holy Week begins. Lazarakia (λαζαράκια in Greek) is a sweet spicy bread that literally means little Lazaruses and is made to celebrate the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus of Bethany from the dead. 

In the old days, women would knead the dough themselves for the lazarakia. Lazarakia is shaped like a man wrapped in a shroud with cloves for eyes. This theoretically imitates Lazarus and symbolizes life overcoming death. According to tradition, Greeks keep one of the lazaraki for an entire year until next Easter to throw it into the sea.   

To make lazarakia you need the following ingredients: flour, sugar, olive oil, raisins, walnuts, dry yeast, clove, cinnamon, and clove sticks.

This traditional lazarakia recipe, which gives 14 pieces, takes 15 minutes to prepare and two hours to make (including the waiting hour). 

Lazarakia: Traditional Easter Little Lazarus Buns

Lazarakia - Ingredients

  • 200 ml of water
  • 80 gr. of sugar
  • 14 gr. of yeast, dry
  • 400 gr. all-purpose flour 
  • 30 ml of Greek olive oil
  • 1 pinch of clove, grated
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, grated
  • 100 of gr. walnuts, crushed
  • 50 gr. raisins, golden
  • Clove stick, for the eyes

Lazarakia - How to Make

  • Start this traditional easter recipe by taking a mixer. In the mixer bucket, add the water, sugar, and yeast. Stir with a hand whisk and allow the mixture to rest for around 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour, olive oil, cinnamon, and cloves and mix on high speed, until the dough is smooth.
  • Cover with a tablecloth and allow to rest for 1 hour.
  • Take a bowl and add the walnuts and raisins. Mix with a spoon and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C, in the air.
  • Cover a baking tray with some parchment paper.
  • Once the dough is puffed, cut it into pieces of 50 g and form them into balls. 
  • From each dough ball, separate 40 gr. for the body and 10 gr. for the hands.
  • On a floured surface, with the help of a rolling pin open the 40 gr. in an oval shape with a diameter of 15 cm. 
  • Spread 2 tbsp. from the filling to the surface of the dough and cover it well with the dough.
  • With the rest of the dough, make 2 little hands and cross them from the back to end up in an X shape in front.
  • Place 2 cloves for the eyes and transfer the lazarakia to a baking tray. 
  • Repeat the same process for the rest of the dough and filling.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the lazarakia get a golden color.
  • Once they are ready, remove them from the oven. 
  • Allow them to cool a bit before serving.
 As lazarakia do not contain dairy, they are ideal if you fast for Easter and you want to eat something sweet. Another delicious Easter cookie you should check is koulourakia pasxalina. Happy Easter!