Monday, May 25, 2009

Bread Baker's Apprentice 2/43: Christopsomos

The breads in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice are presented in alphabetical order. Which makes sense, as that is certainly a reasonable way to organize a set of recipes and I'm relatively confident that Peter didn't necessarily intend for his book to be tackled one recipe after another, in order. But that is exactly what more than 200 other bakers and I are doing, and "artos" comes right after "anadama." Hence, this week I made Greek celebration bread, outside of the context of any actual Greek celebration.

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.


Shaheen said...

The bread looks gorgeous. I can't start to bake with the rest of the group now that my book is here. So looking forward to making bagels. :D

Susie said...

Such a beautiful loaf. Great job. I could eat it anytime. Any left??????????? :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bread! The octopus arms look like they're trying to hold down the rest of the loaf, lest it eat your kitchen, stove and all!

Dianne said...

Thanks, all!

Purple Foodie, I am TOTALLY psyched for the bagels. So is Husband -- he cannot wait!

Susie, thanks! There isn't very much of it left. Mom, Dad and Sister all helped themselves to large pieces of the loaf, which pleases me because I know at least three households in town are enjoying Christopsomos for breakfast.

Gaaarp, that is hysterical! Good thing for those "arms," too -- that boule was massive and could easily have taken over the kitchen. I suppose there are worse things. ;)

Rebeca said...

Looks wonderful!

Jeff said...

I have been meaning to do mine french toast style. I woke up this morning with the intention of just that but was enjoying the snooze button to much.

Maybe tomorrow I can.

Looks awesome and nicely done!!

Cindy said...

Your bread looks so beautiful. Great idea to add dried figs. Must have made it extra sweet.

Dianne said...

Thanks Rebeca, Jeff and Cindy!

Jeff, I'm with you on the snooze button. Most mornings it is my very best friend.

Cindy, the figs gave it such a great flavor and texture -- it was my favorite part of the bread.