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:

  1. Susie

    Wow a beautiful, big, tasty, scrumptious, terrific, loaf. YUM. You make me want to bake it again. 🙂
    Great job,

    5:03 pm  May 25th, 2009
  2. Caron Golden

    I got to have a slice of this bread and it was utterly delicious! I loved the texture and the subtle mix of spices. Great job, Nicole!

    5:10 pm  May 25th, 2009
  3. Kelly

    Your boule looks gorgeous! Definitely celebration-worthy. I took the same route with the day-old bread and made french toast this morning. SO GOOD.

    I really liked this bread, as did my husband and some friends we had over. Even though this has a two day process, the first day was so easy that it practically doesn’t count. I’ll definitely make this again! I loved all of the spices.

    Here’s my post:

    5:48 pm  May 25th, 2009
  4. Mags

    I just now realized that I had a total brain fart when I entered my Greek bread link on your Anadama bread post. Sorry about that… and thank you for including the link on this post! Your bread looks beautiful and BIG too!

    5:52 pm  May 25th, 2009
  5. Allen

    Lyle did an impressive job! The bread is such a rich brown color on the outside – it’s gorgeous. The addition of the spices must really pump of the flavor and make excellent french toast.

    5:53 pm  May 25th, 2009
  6. Hélène

    This bread was really easy to make. I’ll blog about it soon. I made the Christopsomos version. At first i was not too crazy about it but I’m getting use to the taste. Like you I’m making French toast with it. Love your step-by-step pics.

    5:59 pm  May 25th, 2009
  7. Rebecca

    I really like the way your bread turned out! I think making it without the fruits and nuts was a wise decision. I really liked the texture of this bread, but I wasn’t overly fond of all the additions. I’m glad to have tried it, though. Here’s my post:

    6:00 pm  May 25th, 2009
  8. Stacey

    HOORAY for someone making Greek Bread. Traditionally it’s braided. At Easter it’s braided into a circle and an egg is placed in the middle. I’ll have to try your recipe and see how it stacks up to my Yiaya’s (Greek for Grandma). YAY, very excited you posted this… and I love the step by step photos! It makes following any recipe so much easier!

    6:03 pm  May 25th, 2009
  9. Ivete

    As usual, your pictures are gorgeous! I loved the Artos, mine grew even more than yours and made an absolutely GIGANTIC loaf! This is a bread I probably would never have made if it weren’t for this challenge but we loved it so much I’m definitely adding it to my regular rotation for the future . . . but I’ll be halving the recipe next time! =)

    My Artos post:

    6:12 pm  May 25th, 2009
  10. Rebecca

    Nicole, I forgot to say: Beautiful photos! I love how you show all the steps so clearly. Very inspiring. Thank you!

    6:18 pm  May 25th, 2009
  11. Di

    Your boule looks lovely, Nicole. Like you, I went with the basic recipe, but made a braid instead of a boule. You can see it in my post here:

    I made French toast with some of mine, too, and it was delicious! Thanks again for starting this challenge. I know I wouldn’t have made this bread anytime soon if not for the challenge, and it was definitely worth making!

    6:23 pm  May 25th, 2009
  12. Paula - bell'alimento

    Nicole your boule’ looks delish! As always your photos are gorgeous & your step by steps so informative! I LOVED this bread. Here is my post I just wish there had been some left over to make French Toast 🙂

    6:28 pm  May 25th, 2009
  13. Holly

    I made a boule of the ‘plain’ Artos too – I’m glad to see how dark yours is, but yours looks much nicer than mine! Absolutely beautiful!

    6:41 pm  May 25th, 2009
  14. Dianne

    I went for the Christopsomos, because really, I cannot pass up dried fruits (especially figs!) and toasted walnuts. It was delicious, and thanks to the boule’s large size, I was able to share hefty amounts of loaf with family and friends. What a treat!

    6:46 pm  May 25th, 2009
  15. Haley J.

    I opted for the Christosomos, unglazed, with a poolish starter. The poolish was quite easy, as I didn’t have a wild yeast started available. However, the next time I make this bread, I think I will leave out the nuts and glaze it. I omitted the glaze this time, because I thought it would be too sweet. But, now that I’ve eaten it, I think it would add a lot. I also felt that the shape for the Christopsomos really hindered the baking. The cross made the center of the bread very thick and increased the cooking time. As a result, my bread got a bit browner than I would have liked.

    But, the bread was fragrant and wonderful! We loved it. A link to mine is here:

    6:51 pm  May 25th, 2009
  16. Cindy

    Hi Nicole,
    Your bread looks beautiful. I love the name of your starter (Lyle). When my 19 year old son read your blog he was laughing so hard that people actually name their starters. He has nicknamed our group “The Bread Freaks” and your blog just added fuel to the fire. Secretly, I think he is an awe at what we are doing.
    Thanks for the link to my post.


    7:02 pm  May 25th, 2009
  17. Caitlin

    Yay! Since I probably won’t ever make a prettier loaf, I’m glad you shared mine this week 🙂 Yours looks wonderful – although I definitely enjoyed all the add-ins of the christopsomos version, yours looks perfect for french toast. I probably should have revived my starter (George), but I did the poolish version instead, with raisins, dried cranberries, and walnuts.

    7:03 pm  May 25th, 2009
  18. Margie

    Beautiful bread and photo’s. Nicole, I thank you again. This is so much fun!

    7:18 pm  May 25th, 2009
  19. Dragon

    Beautiful bread, Nicole. I love the seeds on top of the shiny crust. Well done!

    8:01 pm  May 25th, 2009
  20. Curt

    I did the lambropsoma form, but without adding anything extra, and I liked the look of the crust enough that i didn’t glaze it, either. It’s amazing! I haven’t done French toast yet, but will try it. It does make great pb&js and toast!

    8:35 pm  May 25th, 2009
  21. Deb

    Great photos once again Nicole! I never seem to manage step by step photos as my hands are usually covered in flour but you do it really well. I did like this bread as well although next time I’d like to try it with a sourdough starter also.

    My Braided Greek Celebration Bread can be found at
    I am enjoying this BBA Challenge so much I am doing a BBA book giveaway!

    On to bagels!

    Italian Food Forever

    8:53 pm  May 25th, 2009
  22. Rebeca

    This was delicious. I made two batches, as I rushed through the first time. They were both delicious, but the second was better. Here is the link to my post:

    9:13 pm  May 25th, 2009
  23. Meagan

    I’m living vicariously through you during the BBA Challenge and loving every minute!! Now if only you still lived across the street so that I could raid your Kitchen, I’d be in heaven. Great work Nicole!! Look forward to the next post… Give smackadoodle a snuggle for me 🙂

    9:21 pm  May 25th, 2009
  24. Nancy (n.o.e.)

    Beautiful- and thorough – post, Nicole! I put everything on the open dishwasher door to spray it – gets washed that way!

    10:24 pm  May 25th, 2009
  25. removals specialists sydney

    I loved this post. It was so interesting. I will come back for sure. Im gonna bookmark it. thanks

    11:05 pm  May 25th, 2009
  26. TheBon

    Thanks for linking to my photo! I really enjoyed the fussy cross on top! I did all raisins and pecans instead of walnuts (husband doesn’t like cranberries or walnuts) and we both really enjoyed it. I’m letting the leftovers stale a bit before I make bread pudding for my husband.

    11:19 pm  May 25th, 2009
  27. Guy Snape

    Artos looks great, I might have to try doing one without fruit some time. I did the Christopsomos, turned out really well.

    12:50 am  May 26th, 2009
  28. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Every time I use my flexible scraper I feel like it’s becoming more and more an extension of my fingers: webbed duck fingers.
    Since I often don’t like dried fruit in bread especially raisins, I not sure why I went for the Christopsomos … I guess just the fun of the shape. It seems every variation of this bread is fabulous and well worth baking. This is a fabulous combo of spices.

    2:27 am  May 26th, 2009
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    2:36 am  May 26th, 2009
  30. SallyBR

    Loved your pictures!

    I guess I should name my starter too – I don’t know when exactly you started yours, but mine turned 1 year old in March…. maybe Lyle has a brother? 🙂

    4:55 am  May 26th, 2009
  31. Sara @ Our Best Bites

    ooh, that sounds like it was made for french toast. I bet all of those flavors are so good in there.

    7:15 am  May 26th, 2009
  32. Michelle

    I absolutely loved this bread, especially since I probably would have never tried it if it weren’t for this challenge! I made the Christopsomos, and it was a HUGE hit. My family already requested that I put it on my holiday baking list.

    7:59 am  May 26th, 2009
  33. Jeff

    So far every blog I have visited about the artos has claimed success. Woo hoo!!

    My goal tonight is to start bob the blob of sourdough starter.

    Nicely done and pics look awesome!

    8:16 am  May 26th, 2009
  34. nico

    very nice post as always. Thanks for linking my post in your blog.

    8:37 am  May 26th, 2009
  35. ATigerintheKitchen

    Beautilful bread — love the pictures. Thanks for the step by step tutorial. Do you have a recipe for that basic french toast batter you mentioned?

    8:46 am  May 26th, 2009
  36. Nicole

    Yes, if you click on the link in the post where I mention the French Toast, it will take you directly to the recipe!

    8:50 am  May 26th, 2009
  37. ATigerintheKitchen

    Thanks, Nicole! I’m hoping to join in next week…buying the BBA today!

    8:58 am  May 26th, 2009
  38. wendy

    I loved this bread and I probably wouldn’t have made it on my own. I loved the flavors so much that I made my Greek Celebration bagels for this week.

    Your artos boule looks perfect! The french toast must have been delicious. I made the Christopsomos, but not it the classic shape. I used the monkey bread method.

    12:41 pm  May 26th, 2009
  39. Ruby

    Looks great Nicole, I love the photos!

    3:07 pm  May 26th, 2009
  40. pam

    Gorgeous bread! You are almost tempting me to join this group!

    When you were telling your technique for spraying the plastic wrap, I was does she walk on that floor without slipping and killing herself. But then you explained about the helpful doggie! So funny!

    3:53 pm  May 26th, 2009
  41. Judy

    Oh it looks so pretty Nicole!!! I made French Toast and loved it! I think I will make it again just for that. Thanks for linking to my bread!

    5:31 pm  May 26th, 2009
  42. Flour Girl

    Another great post! I opted to add the dried fruits and nuts and make the Christopsomos. It was wonderful and fragrant. And, best yet, I still have some in the freezer. I think there’s French toast in my future!

    Happy baking!

    6:45 pm  May 26th, 2009
  43. chris

    I also opted for a plain version. It sure made storing in a bag a lot easier – without the stickiness and all. It was a delicious bread and I agree it makes great french toast. Your pictures look amazing.

    7:45 pm  May 26th, 2009
  44. Devany

    As expected, your post was concise and delightful. Great pictures! I finally ordered a dough whisk because of you.

    Here is my post on the Artos… baked in the midst of a case of swine flu.

    ~devany, Hilo, HI

    9:23 am  May 27th, 2009
  45. Anali

    That is one lovely loaf! : )

    10:37 am  May 27th, 2009
  46. gastroanthropologist

    Love the spices in the bread…breads made with eggs are my favorite for french toast. The spices in the bread must have made the french toast so delicious as well. Saw your rhubarb tweet – a little stewed rhubarb compote might be delicious with your french toast! I’m getting rhubarb weekly in my veg box and running out of ideas…

    10:48 am  May 27th, 2009
  47. dee

    While you may not be posting the recipes. I definitely am still learning your techniques! Keep bread challenge going!

    1:37 pm  May 27th, 2009
  48. ATigerintheKitchen

    I have a really stupid question — is instant yeast the same as active dry yeast?

    3:00 pm  May 27th, 2009
  49. Jodi

    Love that you turned it into french toast!

    3:11 pm  May 27th, 2009
  50. A&N

    I love how clean your loaf looks and the pics are so beautiful, Nicole. We did the Christopsomos and we loved it!

    4:55 pm  May 27th, 2009
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  52. Natashya

    It looks wonderful! Such great photos.

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

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

    Here is mine!

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

    Looks gorgeous! I didn’t think to make mine into French toast, but it sounds awesome!
    Here’s my post:

    11:46 am  May 28th, 2009
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    5:46 pm  May 29th, 2009
  56. 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
  57. howtoeatacupcake

    Mmmm this looks great! I love Greek bread! 😀

    7:41 am  May 31st, 2009
  58. 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
  59. 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
  60. 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
  61. 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:

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

    10:36 am  Jun 1st, 2009
  62. 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.

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

    Ciao Nicole I finally managed to post my Artos ! Your step by step is so good !!!
    Thank you for all the work you do for the group !!
    Have a nice time !!!

    7:28 am  Jun 2nd, 2009
  64. 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:

    1:18 pm  Jul 14th, 2009
  65. 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…

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

    I made the Artos 2 weeks ago before I left for vacation. Now, here’s my post:

    4:39 am  Aug 17th, 2009
  67. 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:
    Thanks for starting the Challenge – this is so much fun! =)

    5:19 am  Sep 9th, 2009
  68. 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
  69. Bob

    Excellent bread, with tons of eating still to do! Here’s my take:–whoa.aspx

    4:13 pm  Nov 29th, 2010
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