As the second bread in our Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge, we were to tackle a Greek Celebration Bread, Artos. There are several variations of the basic bread. One of them is Christopsomos, a beautiful, decorative bread full of lovely flavors! For the recipe, please see Google Books.
We start with a poolish of water, flour and yeast. Allow it to rest overnight for a few hours at room temperature and then in the refrigerator. It will be all lovely and bubbly the next day.
Then add the rest of the flour, butter and lovely spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves), yeast, oil, honey and eggs. I left out the allspice because I couldn't find them in the store, and instead increased the quantity of cinnamon (because I just love cinnamon!).
This is the basic Artos bread. To make the variation, add dried fruit (cranberries/dates/figs/cherries), walnuts and raisins. I used dried chopped dates, walnuts and golden raisins. Be sure to include these in the final stages of kneading the dough before the bulk fermentation.
Allow the dough to double in size (about 90 minutes).
After the bulk ferment, divide the dough into 1/3rds and 2/3 rds. Wrap up the smaller portion and put it away in the refrigerator. The larger portion is shaped into a boule, then lightly oiled and allowed to proof at room temperature for about an hour.
When you are ready to bake the bread, take out the smaller piece and divide into half. Roll each half into a rope. Cross the ropes on top of the boule and let the ends hang down. Split each end and roll up to form a fun decorative pattern. If you're having trouble making the ends stick to the boule, apply a little bit of water.
Bake at 350 deg F for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan for even baking, and bake another 20-25 minutes. While the bread is baking, make a glaze of water, sugar, honey and lemon extract (I left this out because I didn't have it).
Brush the glaze onto the bread after you take it out of the oven and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
The bread was absolutely delicious. I made it on Mother's Day and my mother loved it. The crumb is soft and filled with the deliciousness of raisins, walnuts and dates.
The crust is sweet and sticky with the glaze and the sesame seeds.
I'll definitely be making this bread again!