Artos: Greek Celebration Bread

Sliced Artos

Week two of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge has come to an end, and I can now say that I have made my very first Greek Celebration Bread!  While these breads would normally be baked and consumed during religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, I see no reason why it can’t be made for Memorial Day!

In fact, this bread was so delicious, I’m thinking it might have to be made for Labor Day, too!

Artos is the general name for Greek Celebration Breads, but there are several variations, each with their own flavors, colors and names.  In The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart gives us a basic formula for Artos and then we have the option of adding certain dried fruit and nuts to create either Christopsomos (a Christmas bread) or Lambropsomo (an Easter bread).  There are certainly may other variations of Artos, but those were our only choices in the book.

In addition to the extra ingredients, the Christopsomos and Lambropsomo also require special shaping and the resulting loaves are absolutely beautiful.  Lambropsomo might even have special red-dyed eggs nestled within it’s braid.  Several members of the BBA Challenge created the special holiday loaves, but  I opted to take the easy route and made a basic round Artos without any dried fruit or nuts.

But there was nothing ordinary about this bread!

Flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, lemon zest, almond extract and honey, Greek Celebration Bread is definitely special!  And Mr. Reinhart’s Artos formula requires a wild yeast starter, which adds even more complexity and depth of flavor.

I was so excited when I learned I could use one of my sourdough starters in this bread!  I’ve never used a sourdough starter (or barm, as it is called in this formula) in an enriched bread dough.  My sourdough breads are always very basic: flour, water, starter and salt.  I was excited to see what kind of flavor it would impart to the sweet and spicy Artos dough.

And in anticipation of baking with my starters again, I finally decided to name them!  Meet Lyle.  Lyle is the sourdough starter I created here in San Diego and he’s been active for about a year now.  I’ll introduce my other two starters when they make appearances in other loaves throughout this challenge.  But today, Lyle (named after Lyle Lovett) is the star(ter) of the show!

Bubbling Barm

I took Lyle out of the fridge and started him on a feeding regimen a few days before I baked my Artos.  I needed to get him up to 100% hydration, which means he’s fed equal parts of water and flour (by weight).  As you can see by all the bubbles, he was pretty excited to get started!

I measured out all of the Artos ingredients.  In one bowl,  I combined the dry ingredients: unbleached all-purpose flour, spices, salt, and some instant yeast.

Flour and spices

In a separate bowl, I combined the wet ingredients:  milk, honey, olive oil, eggs, and almond extract.  I might have put the lemon zest in with the wet ingredients, too.

Eggs, Milk and Oil

And finally I measured out 7 ounces of Lyle, my sourdough starter.

Measured Barm

Now that I had dirtied three extra bowls, I poured everything into a larger mixing bowl.  Yes, I do tend to make a huge mess in the kitchen!

Greek Celebration Bread Ingredients

Since I opted to do this loaf by hand, I mixed everything together with my trusty dough whisk.  It really does a great job!

Using the Dough Whisk

Then, using a flexible bowl scraper (one of my other favorite tools), I scraped the dough out onto my well-floured pastry board.  Just like the Anadama bread, this dough was fairly wet and I knew I would end up kneading in some extra flour.

Ready to Knead

I kneaded the dough for a little over ten minutes until it reached the point where it seemed tacky, but not sticky.  To check if the gluten had developed enough, I used the windowpane test (also called membrane test).  This is not an easy thing to photograph, so I was lucky to have my friend Amanda here to help me out!

Windowpane Test

To tell you the truth, the dough probably could have used another couple minutes of kneading, but my lower back was aching a bit since I’m out of practice.  So, let’s just consider this dough well kneaded!

After Ten Minutes of Kneading

The next step was to place my ‘well-kneaded’ dough into an oiled bowl.  I turned it to coat the entire surface with oil and covered the bowl with greased plastic wrap (to grease plastic wrap, just spray it with your favorite cooking spray or spray oil).

Place Dough in a Oiled Bowl

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the dough after it had doubled in size.  But trust me, it had.  It took about an hour and a half.  And this time, instead of deflating it completely, I just gently deflated the large bubbles before shaping it into a round loaf (a.k.a. boule).  I placed the boule on a sheet pan lined with a Silpat.  Parchment would have worked fine, but I have a Silpat, so might as well use it and avoid waste!

Dough shaped into a boule

Again, I covered the dough with greased plastic wrap.  If you save the piece you used to cover the bowl, then you won’t have to spray a new piece with oil!  Just make sure it’s greased well so that it doesn’t stick to your bread dough.  Spraying plastic wrap with cooking spray can be a little awkward, but it’s simple once you get the hang of it.  I lay the piece over my arm, letting it hang down and spray away!  Since I never remember to do it over the sink, the cooking spray then gets all over my kitchen floor.  That’s when my little Boston Terrier runs in and licks the entire floor for about ten minutes.  Don’t ask me why, but he LOVES spray oil, even Baker’s Joy with the flour in it.  He’s learned to listen for the sound of the can and he comes running before I’m even in mid-spray.  I suppose it’s a good thing that he cleans it up for me because a kitchen floor covered with cooking spray is just an accident waiting to happen.

Moving on…

Ready for Proofing

After about an hour of proofing, the loaf was definitely bigger.  Now I wouldn’t say that it had doubled, but remember how I over-proofed my Anadama? I was determined not to do that again!  So, I decided it had risen enough and put it in the oven.  After hearing accounts from other BBA’ers about monster loaves growing out of control in the oven, I had a feeling I wouldn’t end up with a wimpy loaf!

Almost Doubled

Sure enough, this Artos had a nicer oven spring than my Anadama.  It was big and beautiful!  And it was certainly one of the best-smelling loaves I’ve ever had the pleasure of sniffing!

Baked Artos

After brushing it with a honey lemon glaze and sprinkling with sesame seeds, my Artos certainly looked like a loaf worthy of a Greek Celebration!

Glazed and Seeded

I didn’t slice it until the following day when I had the opportunity to share the loaf with some friends.  Kristin, Caron and Amanda all agreed with me, this bread was delicious!

Sliced Artos

And yesterday, when the bread was getting a bit stale, I decided to turn it into French Toast.  Since the bread itself was flavored with spices, I used the most basic of french toast batters.  I ate it with a bit of butter and a drizzle of honey.  Perfect Sunday Brunch!

Artos French Toast

For those of you who are participating in the BBA Challenge, how did you like the Artos?  Which variation did you make? Did you use a barm or a poolish?  Did you learn anything new while baking this particular bread?  And remember, if you wrote a blog post about Artos or have photos available online, please leave a comment and share your link!

The Next Bread

This week we will be making Bagels! The instructions begin on page 115 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  You will need to allow two days to complete the bagels as they require an overnight refrigeration.  You’ll need high-gluten or bread flour for this recipe and the only ingredient that might be hard to find is malt powder.  Luckily, Mr. Reinhart suggests alternative ingredients in case you can’t locate any malt powder.  Good luck and happy baking!

Want to Bake Along With Us?

There are several ways for you to join in the fun!  First of all, you need a copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  Read the first section of the book carefully, as this will prepare you for the bread recipes in the second section of the book.  Then just jump in and bake some Anadama Bread!  Please visit The BBA Challenge Page for more details on how to participate in the group!

Greek Celebration Breads from other BBA’ers:

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69 Comments
  1. Celebration | Personal Development for Success

    […] Artos: Greek Celebration Bread — Pinch My Salt […]

    8:29 pm  May 27th, 2009
  2. Natashya

    It looks wonderful! Such great photos.

    9:52 pm  May 27th, 2009
  3. maris

    Looks fantastic! I wish I’d used sesame seeds.

    Here is mine!
    http://marisblogs.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/the-bread-bakers-apprentice-challenge-artos-greek-celebration-bread-week-two/

    10:56 am  May 28th, 2009
  4. sara

    Looks gorgeous! I didn’t think to make mine into French toast, but it sounds awesome!
    Here’s my post:
    http://cupcakemuffin.blogspot.com/2009/05/artos-greek-celebration-bread.html

    11:46 am  May 28th, 2009
  5. BBA Challenge: Greek Celebration Bread (Artos) | Delicious Cooking Recipes

    […] trusty to analyse discover the blogs of others who are involved in this contest finished Pinch My Salt’s site! If you would same the recipe, you crapper encounter it on pages 112 – 114 in Peter Reinhart’s […]

    5:46 pm  May 29th, 2009
  6. Vickie

    Your bread is beautiful. I am just starting mine. And I have 4 Boston Terriers, and they would all come running to lick up that spray oil!

    2:34 pm  May 30th, 2009
  7. howtoeatacupcake

    Mmmm this looks great! I love Greek bread! 😀

    7:41 am  May 31st, 2009
  8. SulaBlue

    Lovely loaf! The French toast idea sounds almost sinful! I made the Christoposomos loaf with dried cherries and walnuts. It’s so rich! I almost can’t imagine making it moreso by making French toast out of it.

    7:54 am  May 31st, 2009
  9. Hilda

    You do such a beautiful job of taking pictures and baking. I am enjoying the challenge that you have put out there. I read the blogs and look at the pictures and I am quite happy with that. As much as I love recipes, I don’t cook, bake or otherwise do much with my kitchen. But I am enjoying this journey that you all have undertaken. Great job!

    6:53 pm  May 31st, 2009
  10. Donna R

    I love that you can use sourdough starter for this. Sourdough is my baking exploration for this year.. Since being told we no longer have to eat gluten-free, I decided to embrace my glutenness and get back to baking, only now I have the choice to bake with or without gluten. As long as I’m baking, I’m happy.
    I’m loving baking sourdough. I’m giving starter and directions to everyone to get them hooked too :)
    Beautiful pics and instructions. Thanks!!

    7:06 am  Jun 1st, 2009
  11. Katie

    Looks great. Can’t wait to see your bagels and brioche. I used the sourdough starter which made me want to skip ahead to the sourdough recipes, but I haven’t done that yet. I wanted to make french toast like you did, but we ended up snacking too much on it. I ended up making croutons with my leftovers which were delicious in a funky, unexpected kind of way. My blog about my Christopsomos is here: http://urbanpeasantry.blogspot.com/2009/05/more-bread.html

    Having a great time baking my way through the book. Thanks for the great idea!

    10:36 am  Jun 1st, 2009
  12. Laurie Ashton Farook

    Nicole, your bread looks a lot lighter – as in, the inside of the bread – than mine. Curious. I wonder if the different spices are responsible for that or if it’s that my flour is that much darker. Interesting.

    My post is up – finally! And, as always, mine is the sourdough/wild yeast/natural leaven/whatever you call it version. http://food.laurieashton.com/2009/05/artos-greek-celebration-bread-sourdough-version-hurrah/

    4:51 am  Jun 2nd, 2009
  13. natalia

    Ciao Nicole I finally managed to post my Artos ! Your step by step is so good !!! http://gattifiliefarina.blogspot.com/2009/06/bba-artos-greek-celebration-bread.html
    Thank you for all the work you do for the group !!
    Have a nice time !!!

    7:28 am  Jun 2nd, 2009
  14. Sara

    Hi! Just made my Artos, wow, it is a fabulous bread. I am so glad I joined the challenge just because it got me to make this one bread, if nothing more: it is so delicious! Also–I had a monster loaf as well!

    Here’s my link: http://threecleversisters.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/bba-challenge-greek-celebration-bread/

    1:18 pm  Jul 14th, 2009
  15. Kurt

    Like Ivete, I probably wouldn’t have made this recipe if it weren’t for the “Challenge”, but I will definitely make it again. My next attempt will likely be the Christopsomos, probably for Christmas.

    My loaf wasn’t as dark…http://www.americastestkitchen.com/ibb/posts.aspx?postID=289593&postRepeater1-p=1#289675

    8:17 pm  Aug 2nd, 2009
  16. AP269

    Hi,
    I made the Artos 2 weeks ago before I left for vacation. Now, here’s my post: http://ap269.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/bba-challenge-2-greek-celebration-bread/.

    4:39 am  Aug 17th, 2009
  17. Abby

    Better late than never! I stumbled on the Challenge a few weeks ago and have baked the first two breads now. The Anadama went well and made great toast (as you said!)….We absolutely loved the Artos (we’re planning on French toast tonight with the little bit that’s left) although it got kind of dented when I was trying to flip it over to take its temperature…any advice on how to do that?! Here’s my post: http://mixitbakeit.blogspot.com/2009/09/bba-challenge-2-artos.html
    Thanks for starting the Challenge – this is so much fun! =)

    5:19 am  Sep 9th, 2009
  18. Scott

    I just baked Lambropsomo for Easter, and I decided to try the traditional spices, mahlab and mastic, that PR mentions in the side notes. They made the bread absolutely delicious with a flavor unlike anything I have had in the states!

    12:49 pm  Apr 9th, 2010
  19. Bob

    Excellent bread, with tons of eating still to do! Here’s my take:
    http://blog.smallkitchencooking.com/2010/11/28/greek-celebration-bread–whoa.aspx

    4:13 pm  Nov 29th, 2010
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