Monday, January 17, 2011

BBA #2: Artos (Greek Celebration Breads)--Christopsomos

Artos--ChristopsomosAnother 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.

Artos--ChristopsomosTo 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.


  1. Interesting, it sounds like you didn't add extra flour. I didn't either and found my dough was pretty easy to handle, barring my mess up with the written directions. I did however knead it for 10 minutes, after I gave it 30 minutes to autolyse. Such a nice loaf you made....

  2. What a beautiful loaf. I love the soft interior. It's beautifully specked with dried fruit and nuts. Have you ever made a Stollen that had a similar/soft texture? I made one last month and it turned out dense. I blame it on my yeast inexperience. I will definitely try again.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my 100% WW bread. I guess what I meant by "vital wheat gluten makes the bread soft" is that due to the gluten powder added, the loaf has more gluten development which (usually) gives you a higher rise which (usually) results in a softer loaf :o) I guess I didn't connect the dots very well :o)

  3. @Hanaâ: I've never tried stollen, but it will be coming up in Reinhart's book eventually. By the time we get to it, I should have the skills to tackle it! :)

    On the wheat gluten, I'm not sure if higher rise is a driver for softness...seems like a very chewy, high gluten artisan bread wouldn't be called soft. On the other hand, you are certainly right that a dense low-gluten loaf would be 'hard'. I may have to think on this some more...

  4. Maybe I'm overthinking the whole wheat gluten thing :o) If you do get to make a Stollen, I'd be interested in seeing your rendition. I have no doubt yours will turn out great!