Another product of the housebound period of last week's winter storm: bread #2 for the BBA Challenge. The base recipe for Artos is an enriched bread (it has eggs, honey, olive oil, and milk) with spices and flavorings--cinnamon primarily, with nutmeg, cloves, allspice, almond extract, and orange or lemon zest or extract. I needed my lemon zest for something else, had no orange on hand, so I used a touch of lemon oil. I decided to do the Christopsomos options, which adds raisins, dried cherries, and walnuts to the bread--but i skipped the raisins because the folks next door aren't fond of 'em. I have to get rid of all this bread somehow, you see...
Fist up was the barm, a term I've been seeing on people's blogs without knowing what it really is, other than one of several flour-water mixtures mixed up ahead of time and added to bread for flavor. Barm, in Reinhart's usage (I understand that the term maybe has some other definitions) is a sourdough starter, really. After reading through all the instructions for the multi-day project of starting your own with wild yeast, I saw the line "[over] time the organisms indigenous to your region will gradually take charge of it...a starter made from a seed culture imported from Egypt or Russia will, over time, produce bread that tastes like a starter made locally from scratch." Aha! My sourdough starter, purchased several years ago from KA and fed 1:1 by weight, surely has by now been taken over by indigenous microorganisms. It should be the same thing I'd get if I followed the make-your-own steps. All I need to do is feed the starter the night before I want to bake bread, and make sure I have enough volume for the recipe.
This dough was very well behaved. All the ingredients went in the mixer bowl, on went the dough hook, and eventually there was a lovely ball of dough. I didn't knead the full 10 minutes because the texture looked so good. Come to think if it, I also skipped the windowpane test and the temperature test...I'll try to do better next time...but it felt right.
The dough rose nicely to double, if slowly--I'm getting used to these room temperature rises instead of my usual practice of using my warming oven's proof setting, which makes things go much faster. Reinhart maintains the slower rise gives more flavor, but says if you need the speed, use whatever you need to to give the dough a warmer environment.
To shape the Christopsomos, the dough is divided 2/3 - 1/3, and the smaller piece goes in the fridge. The larger piece is formed into a boule and allowed to double, then the smaller piece comes out and is used to make the decorative cross and curlicues. Except...I misread and formed the decorations before the second rise. I guess if I'd followed the directions I'd have had better definition in the curls.
There's an optional sugar-syrup glaze which I skipped in fovar of a little butter rubbed over the warm loaf for some shine.
Taste results: a lovely bread, very nice flavor with the spices in the dough. The cherries are a great bread addition (my weekly challah almost always has dried cherries in it). It was great just plain, with butter, or toasted. I might make this one for a breakfast bread without bothering with the fancy shaping.