Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Bread Baker's Apprentice #2-Artos Bread

I am a day late for this but here is the second bread this group have tried. The recipe is part of a family of breads used in Greece to celebrate various festivities. Artos is the general name for Greek celebration breads, but there are many variations with different names, twists and turns. Nuts, dried fruit, and coins are also added depending on what event is celebrated. The book gives three variations of this bread, one being the bread Christopsomos, baked at Christmas time, which is a beautiful variation with a piece of dough added on top to resemble the cross. I wanted to try this but run out of time, so I only tried the simpler version of Artos bread, made with a starter, and with the addition of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and all spice.

The bread is partially leavened with a barm or a poolish. I decided to use my sourdough starter since it works so well and has the same consistency of the barm from this book. As I normally do with any recipe, I first made the recipe as was written to try substitutions later. The bread was straightforward, and it performed how described in the recipe. I used the stretch and fold method to develop more gluten since I never get to the window pane test in my kitchenaid mixer. How I wish I had the money to buy a stronger mixer to make bread.....

After the first proofing, I divided the dough in two since it was way too big in my opinion. I shaped the two parts into a boule and let is rise a second time. Baking was at 350F without misting the oven, or scoring the top. The final bread looked great and I glazed it with a mixture of water, sugar and honey like Reinhart suggests, and topped it with sesame seeds.

I have to be honest, here...the execution of the bread was easy and I visually liked the final product, but the taste didn't do for me. There was a contrast between the sweet top and the less sweet crumb. I think that the addition of nuts and dried fruit will improve the taste quite a bit, so I will try it again, adding lots of dry fruit next time. I also didn't care too much for all the spices, maybe I will skip the clove, which tasted predominant, and add more of the other spices, or even some anice seeds to go with dry cherries.

Bagels are next, can't wait!


görel said...

Pity you didn't like it. I did the version with fruit and nuts, and I think I would have found bread a bit boring without them. And cloves can be very dominant!

I loved this bread, but not the Anadama, I guess that's the way it is. But I wouldn't have baked either of them if it had not been for this challenge!

Simona said...

Celebration breads: it's an interesting topic. The bread looks really nice in the photo. It sounds like the recipe has quite a bit of strong-flavored spices.

susies1955 said...

Such a beautiful loaf.
I loved the taste and I didn't do any add in's.
Great job.

Laura said...

Gorel, I am with you, I wouldn't have made either of these breads if it weren't for the challenge. I is so funny that we all different taste buds. I will take the Anadama any day over the Artos, I guess we'll have plenty of bread if we shared a house ;o)

Simona, I love celebration breads, there are so many variations. I guess being Italian works against me in the spice department. I will take dry fruit over spices any day.

Susie, I am glad you liked the bread. I will try it again and change it a little.

susies1955 said...

How would you change it? :) Just wondering.
Maybe I'll try it again too.

Laura said...

Susie, first I would try the variation with dried fruit and nuts (love them!), also adding less of the spices, especially the clove and nutmeg. I would also try an egg wash instead of the sugar glaze as the bread got really sticky and hard to manage (someone mentioned this in the thread of the yahoo group). I will also try to proof the bread more since it came out a little bit too dense. Hopefully that will help the flavor a bit.

susies1955 said...

Great ideas. I am thinking of doing it again with everything 'inside'. I didn't put anything on top of mine but may try an egg wash like you wrote.

Sweet Charity said...

I wasn't stoked on it either, though I knew I wasn't going to like it... I'm just not into celebration breads.
I am really looking forward to the bagels though!!


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