foodgeek's diary


Artos: Greek Celebration Bread

Posted by foodgeek on April 6, 2010 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

My second bread for the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge! S'about time, huh?  I actually baked these quite sometime ago and just have not had a chance to blog about it.


This "Greek Celebration Bread" is traditionally baked during Christmas and Easter holidays. I made right in the midst of Lent. Close enough?


Peter Reinhart included a couple variations to this recipe in Bread Baker's Apprentice with the option of adding dried fruit and nuts to create either Christopsomos (a Christmas bread) or Lambropsomo (an Easter bread). He also illustrated shaping options to create beautiful loaves that appear to be works of art if you can pull it off. I chose to go with the basic recipe and shaping option at this point to start. I would love to make this bread again and try to different mixtures and shapes.


As I remember it, this bread was close to being a brioche, somewhat of a sweet dough almost. The bread is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, lemon zest, almond extract and honey and included wild yeast starter, which always adds more depth to the flavor of any bread. Thank you, chef Weber, for the starter you gave me back in February which to this remains alive and well in my kitchen. I always look forward to using my starter.


When I made this bread I did not go about taking step by step pictures. I will update this post with those pics when I make this bread again. So for the meantime, I will simply leave you with a pretty picture of the finished product. Stay tuned!





Anadama Bread

Posted by foodgeek on February 28, 2010 at 5:32 PM Comments comments (2)

Finally got going with Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge on 1/31/10. First bread, Anadama - one that I've never heard of before. Apparently there's a story behind the name of this bread - something to the effect of a fisherman who, "...angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeast to his porridge and eats the resultant bread, while cursing, 'Anna, damn her.'"


And so it goes, this bread does indeed consist basically of flour, corn meal, and molasses.


Peter Reinhart's version utilizes a soaker of a mixture of coarse ground corn meal and water, and a sponge consisting of the corn meal soaker with part of the flour, all of the yeast, and water. This method evokes more flavor from the grain.


The whole process took about 2 days in all. The first day the soaker is mixed and set out in room temperature. Second day, the sponge is mixed and set out for about an hour. The bubbles appearing on the surface was a good sign of fermentation.



Next step, mix the remaining ingredients (flour, salt, molasses and butter) to the sponge. I continued to mix (using my stand mixer) until the dough started pulling from the sides. I took it out of the mixer and kneaded by hand to get a better feel for the dough consistency. I didn't take a picture of the kneaded dough this time around but I will in the future. The goal at this point was to have a dough that was, as Peter Reinhart recommended, Peter Reinhart: “...firm but supple and pliable and definitely not sticky.” At this point, the dough is shaped into a ball and placed into an oiled bowl, turned a couple of times to coat the surface, then set aside at room temperature for about 90 minutes for the first rising. It should grow to about double its size. Again, didn't a picture this time but will add in the future.


Next up, shaping the dough. I turned the dough out onto the counter and divided it to 3 parts as instructed. I shaped the dough into loaves as described in the book. I skipped putting them into loaf pans as I only had one pan. I instead set them on a sheet pan, covered them with a lighly oiled plastic wrap and set them out for the second rise at room temperature for about another 90 minutes. This time, I have pictures!



After they have risen, into the oven they went!



The aroma in house while this bread was baking was amazing! The result:



Success! At least to me it was. Thumbs up from the hubby, my taste tester! Sweetness from the molasses, a little bit of a crunch from the corn meal, crispy outside, soft inside, fabulous with just a little butter. Great for sandwiches or as a side bread in meals. Will definitely revisit this recipe again!


My first BBA Challenge bread...tada!

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge

Posted by foodgeek on February 28, 2010 at 3:57 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! Finally found a little bit of time today to add a couple posts.


I've decided to join the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge! The BBA Challenge is a movement started by Nicole, the food blogger of, challenging home bakers across the county and across the world to attempt every single recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. This movement actually started in May of 2009. I have recently just discovered it and decided to join in. I will be posting about it as I go along. It's a slow start so far. I just finished the first 2 breads in the book - Anadama and Artos breads. I will talk about these in the next couple of blogs.


I don't know what it is that has gotten me mesmerized with bread baking. I took a baking class about two or three years ago, learned the basics of artisan bread baking and became hooked ever since. It is both an art form and a science. And the aromas it bestows upon my home is something else! It is the only culinary activity I know of that brings comfort not just in eating the finished product but in making it - the fermenting of yeast, the mixing, kneading and shaping of dough. It's magic! Buying bread from a store, even if it was good artisan bread, just takes away from it all.


I've rambled enough about my love for bread baking. On to actual food recipe blogs. Stay tuned!