But no matter, because (a) I am not Greek and the bread doesn't have a traditional or cultural meaning to me, and (b) hello, it is a sweet, flavorful bread studded with nuts and dried fruit, then brushed with a honey-citrus glaze. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure a bread like that is good any time of year.
"Artos" refers to Greek celebration breads in general; Reinhart presents a few different recipes that fit under that umbrella. I chose to make "the nativity Christopsomos, with its bread-dough cross laminated on top of a round loaf." I have made artos before -- specifically, tsoureki, which I make each year at Easter -- but had never attempted Christopsomos. It is a hefty, shiny, showstopper of a loaf whose crumb -- replete with raisins, toasted walnuts and dried figs (yum) -- is even (somehow) more beautiful than its glossy golden crust. Though this bread requires a little bit of advance planning -- in the form of a poolish, which is a pre-ferment of flour, yeast and water that needs to be made at least a day in advance -- it is, regardless, quite easy to make and immensely rewarding. I mean, you pull this bread out of the oven and you just feel good about yourself. If it is or is not Christmas.
As I discovered this weekend, Christopsomos makes a heck of an addition to a Memorial Day cookout. Non-traditional, totally. But also phenomenally delicious. Lots of my fellow The Bread Baker's Apprentice colleagues seem to agree: they've been enjoying their May-baked Christopsomos toasted, with a generous spread of salted butter, or sliced, battered and re-imagined as a dried fruit- and nut-enriched French toast. The loaf is so large and there's so much bread to go around that I'm certain that I'll serve my Christopsomos both of these ways in the coming days. But for today it was just cut yourself a piece, taste and enjoy.
Then cut yourself another piece.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge asks that we do not share the recipes from Reinhart's book. I implore you, in the name of all that is yeasty and carby and good, get yourself a copy, turn to page 111 and get to making your artos. Regardless of what day of the year it is, and regardless if you are or are not Greek. Trust me.