Bread Baker's Apprentice: Artos

On the eighth day, she created Artos. It's a Greek Celebration bread, and "Artos" is the general name for these loaves. (I'm also told that "artos" is the Greek word for "bread.") There are loaves to celebrate different holidays, and my next loaf will be the Christopsomos, which is for the Christmas celebration. Closer to Easter, I'll be baking the Lambropsomo to celebrate Easter, but for now, let's take a look at the master formula used to make all of the celebration breads.

Artos is an enriched (meaning it has both fat in the form of olive oil and sweetener in the form of honey), standard dough (having to do with the amount of hydration...this one falling into the "sandwich bread" realm), made with a mixed leavening method of both wild and commercial yeast. Yesterday I started off with 7 oz. of barm and mixed that with 16 oz. of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant yeast. I've used up most of the Gold Medal flour I had, and so I've graduated to King Arthur Flour. In addition to being more expensive, it seems to have a larger fan club. Everyone to whom I've mentioned King Arthur extols its virtues for making the best bread. So, okay...I'll bite.

Also added at this point were cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, lemon extract, almond extract, eggs, honey, olive oil, and warm milk. I mixed it first with the paddle attachment and then switched off to the dough hook to be kneaded for 10 minutes. It came together into a ball nicely.

It was supposed to reach 77-81°F. before it was ready...check.

Also, it needed to pass the "window pane test". I can't take a picture of my own dough here because it requires both hands to do the window pane test. Basically, this means breaking off a bit of dough, stretching it out next to the light of a window, and check for gluten development. It needs to be elastic enough to show light through without breaking or tearing. Here's the picture from the book.

And mine passed the test, so into its proofing bowl it went.

While I was waiting for it to finish its first rise, I moved the remainder of the barm into a plastic container and refrigerated it. I first weighed the empty container since feeding this puppy will be done by weight, and I dated it for when it needs to be fed. I was a little confused about the date. It's supposed to be able to go three days, but I wasn't sure if that meant three days from when it was last fed or whether it was three days from the day I used it. Better safe than sorry, I figured, and so I'll feed it three days from when it was last fed.

It was supposed to take anywhere from 60-90 minutes to double in size. Mine took two hours.

From there, I shaped it into a "boule", and that was easy enough. If you look closely, you can see a large bubble of trapped gas just beneath the skin. I was able to massage that down a little and flatten it out before leaving it to its second rise.

This was done on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and so it was hard to measure or judge its volume. Nevertheless, after 90 minutes it looked like this. My oven was warm, and so I decided to go ahead and bake it. (In a minute, I'll tell you what I learned about this.)

And even with all this watchful waiting, I could barely tear myself away from the bread. When it went into the oven, I decided to walk away for a little while and let it bake in peace.

While I was waiting for the first rise, I finished up the first embroidered block for the Summer Holiday quilt.

I took it downstairs to press and trim. After 20 minutes in the oven, I was supposed to turn the baking sheet 180° to ensure even baking, and whoa! It had already risen to near-comical proportions. Yikes! I was hoping it wouldn't outgrow the oven because it still had anywhere from 20-25 minutes to go.

And then, I sort of stuck around watching it. It didn't get any larger, and after 20 minutes, it was ready to come out of the oven. I brushed it with a glaze made from sugar, water, honey, and lemon extract, and then it was to be sprinkled with sesame seeds. I used oatmeal instead. We just say "no" to sesame seeds here at the Three Cats Ranch.

It was so balloon-like that I took to posting pictures on some Facebook bread baking groups to get the opinions of others whether it was supposed to look like this. Those folks were very reassuring. One man who seems to know a lot about these kinds of breads told me this balloon-like appearance was normal and referred to as "oven-spring". The loaf straight from the oven is taught with steam pressure coming from the inside. As it cooled, it shrunk a little, taking on a lumpier appearance.

One person said something like, "It rose that high without [exploding]. You did good!" At that comment, I realized that it actually had exploded a little bit on the back side. If you look carefully at the image below, you'll see that there is a crack and a little leakage. 

I'm assuming this is what she's referring to. It didn't hurt the bread any, and so I wasn't too worried. I'm learning, and so these comments are very helpful.

Okay, so I couldn't cut into it for at least an hour. It made sense to get back to work on my block. The designer, Lynette Anderson, uses an English paper-piecing method to put a border around the stitched blocks. Here's the picture from the book.

And those little hand-stitched triangles had disaster written all over them. For the second time of the day, I just said "no".  It happens that I had a nice sized piece of strata leftover from when I made a pieced border for the Written in Thread quilt.

Also, I have these strips from when I made the pieced blocks for this quilt, and I figured I could fashion a pieced border using all of these.

I cut a 1 1/2 inch strip from the larger strata and then took it apart, adding in a strip from the pieced blocks to make a border that fit perfectly.

The blocks need to measure 9 1/2 inches unfinished, and so I used some strips from the background fabric to make a narrow outer border.

This block goes in the upper left hand corner of the quilt, and so I laid it next to its adjacent pieced block. I think it's going to be just fine using those strips of strata from Written in Thread. By adding in the strips from the pieced blocks, you don't notice there are bits of fabric from a different quilt.

So that's finished. The next time I work on this, I'll be making this block, called "On the Road." I love that the cat is driving.

So then it was time to cut the bread. Here, you can see that it has shrunk significantly. The most helpful comment from the Facebook group yesterday was that the high rise resulted from under-proofing. She explained to me that I could tell if it was ready to bake by poking the raw dough in the side to see if it springs back after light pressure. If it does, then it still needs time to rise. And I knew that, but I forgot. It isn't mentioned in Peter Reinhart's book. I'll remember for next time. If you look at the bottom of the loaf, you can see that it's a little underdone there, and it collapsed a little under its own weight as it cooled.

Nevertheless, I'm so happy with this. It is soft and delicious, and the glaze sweetens it just a touch. We each had half of two small slices. Yum. It was hard not to eat the whole loaf in one sitting. Rather than continue eating, I pulled myself away and made up Block #20 of 20 for the Bee-utiful quilt along. This one is called "Bee Friendly". And that's where I'll pick up with my stitching this morning.

As for the bread, I had a slice this morning, toasted, with plenty of butta.

Food for the soul.

In a few days, I'll get to work on the Christapsomos loaf. It's essentially the same bread with the addition of golden raisins and dried cranberries. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

17 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

Love the blocks -- I like the pieced border better than the triangles -- and am in awe of the bread. You done good! It makes me want to bake again, although that is a dangerous thought since I would end up eating all the wares myself because my fella is a no-carber. Hard to trust those folk, so you know it must be love.

Hexe im Hollerbusch said...

The bread looks delicious!! I recently starting baking bread too - and had some issues with my loafs. I find the pdf for troubleshooting bread on this website: http://www.progressivebaker.com/tips_tools/trouble_shooting_tips.html
very helpful! To my limited experience it looks overproved – but really who cares as long as the loaf looks so good and tastes delicious!

claudia said...

Oh that bread has my mouth watering. I wish we had smell-o-vision!
I really like how you treated your block.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Yummo!! Yes, smell-o-vision would be wonderful with fresh bread. I like the use of the strattas and the fabrics are so close to color/pattern that it all works.

Podunk Pretties said...

There's nothing like this smell of fresh bread baking in the oven...heaven. Your bread looks lovely, I can smell it from here. Homemade bread also makes the best french toast a few days later. Yumm..

Lana Ku said...

Your bread looks delicious and I bet it smelled divine. And that dog block is so cute.

Debbie said...

OH, good....love the toasted appearance, nice and crusty. Yes, I sometimes under-proof because I am rushed or hungry:) But it rarely affects the taste. I think you did exceptional. As to the feeding....I think you are right about the 3 days from last fed.
Blocks look good...and the strata will be a cute border.

DeeDee said...

Nice!! The bread looks delicious. And I'm with others, I like your pieced border. Those triangles would have driven me batty.

crazy quilter said...

Yum! Your bread turned out so pretty, and since you wanted to eat the entire loaf I think it taste as good as it looks .Congrats I can't wait to see the Christmas bread it sounds yummy too!

Brown Family said...

Your bread looks lovely and yummy!

Gretchen Weaver said...

Your bread looks delicious and your bread adventure sounds wonderful. I pulled my sourdough starter out of the freezer Friday, thawed it and stirred in some ww flour. Now it is just sitting there, but it should start living it up in a few days. Sourdough definitely teaches patience.

Quilting Babcia said...

Your morning toast looks positively delicious. I've had that underdone bottom on bread a couple of times but didn't know that was from underproofing, so thanks! I think your strips/squares make a fine stand-in for all those fiddly triangles.

SJSM said...

It's a day of finishes. Your bread can come over to my house any time. It is a wonderful thing to have the internet. Having others able to see your work and give feedback will make you the best baker in your town. Your first block looks like a winner. Carry on!

Wendy Tuma said...

Your little block is so cute, and I would've worked around the EPP too. I haven't mastered that yet. The Artos -- yum, yum, yum! Wendy at piecefulthoughts@gmail.com

Dar said...

Your fix on the block was smart and looks good. I LOVE, LOVE, your bread. I think it looks absolutely perfect in my book. I tried your Crusty walnut, cranberry loaf this weekend and it tastes good, but did not look as pretty as your loaf did. After reading your comments on your current bread, I think maybe my was under proofed too. It didn't rise as much as I thought it should. Also, I did not bake it long after the lid was taken off the dutch oven because it looked golden color already. We are having no trouble eating it, however. lol

Kate said...

The summer holiday block turned out so cute. You are going to have another gorgeous quilt when those are all done. Your bread looks yummy, even with it's flaws.

Junebug613 said...

I love the Summer Holiday block! I am quite partial to spotted dogs. It turned out wonderful, with the strips. I've forgotten how much I admire your talent and the amount of work you accomplish.