Saturday, May 23, 2009

artos: greek celebration breads - bread baker's apprentice challenge #2

With the success of bread one out of the way and around fifty more to go, here is bread challenge number two. It seems Artos is the generic name for Greek celebration breads with more specific names and baking twists dependent on the festival. Peter gives an example of Easter and Christmas versions which contain different colored fruit. The bread was historically made with a wild yeast starter and were often brought to the church by locals who then had the bread blessed by priests. In turn, the loaves were then given out to the needy. The version below is the straight master recipe. With minor changes (most notably the addition of fruits) the bread can become Christopsomos or Lambropsomo.

The dough was stickier than originally intended, so I ended up adding more flour through out the kneading process. This wasn't really a problem, because the smells emitting from the spices at 8:30 in the morning were like heaven. I almost wanted to wrap my head in the proofing bowl just to stay surrounded by them. The loaf had a good amount of spring in the oven, but took quite a bit longer to reach 190 degrees. I decided not to glaze it (actually I forgot) but it doesn't matter. The loaf is soft, and although it's quite heavy (2 1/2 pounds) it isn't dense. I'm definitely impressed with this and will add some diced up fruit (apricots!) next time. This version is like a hot cross bun with out the fruit.

adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

  1. Prepare 1 cup of barm or poolish (the night before) and allow one hour at room temperature.
  2. Mix together 16 ounces of bread flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast,1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon of cloves in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the barm or poolish, 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (90 -100f), and 1 teaspoon of both lemon and almond extract.
  4. Knead the dough, adding flour as necessary to create a tacky and very supple dough, for 10 minutes or so until able to pass the windowpane test.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to double - around 90 minutes.
  6. Take out the dough and shape in a boule
  7. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and allow to double in size - 60 to 90 minutes
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Place sheet pan on middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes
  10. Rotate the pan and continue baking for 20 - 25 minutes (internal temp 190)
  11. Either glaze loaf right away or transfer to a rack and cool one hour before cutting.
If you need any more reason to buy the book and attempt the recipe it would be this - french toast. While french toast can be used to make your everyday breakfast a little more special, this bread makes it super duper special. The spices really shine through and it's like your taste buds winning the french toast lottery!

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