Greek Celebration Bread

Bring on the party!  Lets bake some bread!  Not something you hear very often from a guy who brew’s his own beer (yes, its another yeast implementation but the theme is the same as bread… my son calls me a yeast bender after his favorite character Aang). So, normally the Mrs. and I are ogling the hops and IBU’s of some double IPA; but that’s another blog.  This one is about Greek Celebration Bread.

Peter R. (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – 2001) does a great job of describing how other cultures would bake bread on celebration days like Christmas and Easter.  They would pack these loaves with all sorts of spices and goodness, then take them down to the local priest to have them blessed.  I think the whole thing is awesome.  I’m certain that generations of grand parents, parents, kids, the works would be fully aware that there was bread on the rise and there would soon be a party.

Greek Celebration Bread Spices
That little bottle of ground clove cost as much as 12 loaves of home baked bread!

The Greek Celebration Bread formula has a few spices in it, some of which I didn’t own.  A trip to the store to buy ground clove ($ kaa-ching! $), and nutmeg would round out the ingredient list.  I had the others; ground cinnamon, ground all spice, honey, and lemon and almond extract.  This sounds like the making of a good pumpkin pie doesn’t it (pronounced punkin ’round these parts)?  The cool thing about this formula is that it starts with a cup of barm!  Yay! Another cool way to use my sourdough starter!

bowl of barm
This messy bowl of barm has provide my family yummy sourdough bread!

In all the excitement of making this bread – it has 10 times more ingredients than any bread I’ve baked – I forgot to add 1.5 teaspoons of commercial yeast. Oh no!!!  I remembered this when I saw the frothing little cup of hydrated active dry yeast sitting on the counter next to the beautifully kneaded ball of dough in a nice oiled bowl.  Dab-nabit!  The kids were around so I couldn’t say what was really on my mind.  Well, the wild yeast in the barm will have to do all the work (I’m certain they probably feel under appreciated anyway, now this!).

Since I neglected to add commercial yeast to the dough I increased my bulk fermentation time to 2.5 hours and behold the dough had risen!  I didn’t punch down the bread, but instead tri-folded it a couple of times to try not to ruin all the good work the yeast had achieved.  I formed the loaf  gently and extended the proofing time to 2 hours.  To say the least, if this loaf turned out we would be celebrating for sure.

Artos: Greek Celebration Bread
After 2 hours of proofing, baked at 350 for close to 50 Minutes.

I skipped the optional glaze and all the fancy shaping the book recommends.  I was simply happy to shape this into an oval loaf and let it bake.  The bread filled the house with sugar and spice and everything nice (like my wife and daughter).  A slice of this bread with a little butter is like desert.  Mmm, I think I’ll go have a slice now!

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