Monday, May 25, 2009

BBA Challenge Week 2 — Artos: Greek Celebration Breads

Yesterday wrapped up week 2 for the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge group. If you're interested in learning more about the challenge, Nicole at Pinch My Salt has created an incredibly helpful FAQ here. Although the official group is closed to new members, there's no reason not to join us. Here's how.

This week's bread was Artos, Greek celebration breads. It's an enriched bread (in this case, meaning it contains fat, eggs and milk) and is the basis for holiday-specific variations. The book lists two, Christopsomos and Lambropsomo, for Christmas and Easter respectively. Each has its own combination of add-ins in the form of various dried fruits and nuts, and also has a specific shape. The Christopsomos is a boule with a fancy cross/swirl over the top and the Lambropsomo is a braid with hard boiled eggs nestled in the strands.

Right after shaping ... and just before going into the oven.

I chose the Chrisopsomos add-ins but went with the braid shape. I'm partial to braided bread; I think it's just gorgeous. Despite not having honey (I substituted with agave syrup), everything seemed to be going swimmingly. It wasn't until I was shaping the bread for its final proofing that I realized I'd left out the fruits and nuts.

I could have left it alone and baked it without, but I decided to gather the dough back together and knead them in, letting the dough rest again before shaping. I had already shaped a small boule with about 1/3 of the dough and left that alone.

This is a 1/4 sheet pan, which makes this loaf look huge. It's not!
See the flecks? Those are all of the fragrant spices. Mmm...

The re-kneaded dough proofed beautifully and baked up as good as I could have hoped—it was gorgeous. But I think the interruption of adding the fruits and nuts changed the crumb. Unlike the boule that was as soft as can be and almost melt-in-your-mouth tender, the braid was drier and more dense. While they both tasted excellent, Dwight preferred the boule with its soft texture. In his words, "It was perfect."

Clockwise from the top: Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, Penzeys Baking Spice, and a puddle of yeast and fresh nutmeg at 7 o'clock. They were victims of a flour avalanche.

I love this stuff. I put it in many of my baked goods.

Nutmeg innards. Cool, eh?

I will definitely be making this bread again. It's loaded with all of my favorite baking spices, and is a beautiful dough to work with, not to mention that it's delicious. It was absolutely perfect as french toast!

This week, we move on to bagels. I'm anxious to try them. I've made some in the past using different recipes and they were better suited to hockey pucks than breakfast food, so keep your fingers crossed that Mr. Reinhart will help me finally get them right.


  1. Nice post! Your bread is beautiful. As many breads as I've made, I've never done a braid. I suppose that will change with the BBA Challenge.

    I think you'll like the bagels. I've made them quite a few times. Swing by my blog for my write up.


  2. Awesome! They look beautiful! I just love Penzey's!

  3. Beautiful! Sure turned out great and looks so yummy.
    Great job,

  4. Your braid is so beautiful! In fact I think I linked to your flickr photo from my blog post :-)

  5. What a beautiful post on your Artos! I made the Christopsomos version of the bread, as well. I also wished I had left out the fruit and nuts and went with a plain version. It sounds like your small boule turned out perfectly.

  6. Beautiful and Lovely Loaves! Makes me wish I had gone with my original plan for braiding.

  7. Great looking bread! Nice weave pattern.

  8. It looks delicious! I'm excited to try make the bagels later this week. Hope they turn out for you!

  9. Mmmmm, this looks really delicious! Love the braid. :)


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