Artos: #BBA Challenge Bread No. 2


Recipe number two in the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge series is “Artos: Greek Celebration Bread“. In the preamble, Peter Reinhart tells how this is a holiday and festival bread that covers multiple variations.

The basic recipe is easily turned into “Christpsomos”, a Christmas loaf, by the simple additions of raisins, cranberries and walnuts or into “Lambropsomo”, an Easter loaf, by adding raisins, dried apricots and almond slivers, braiding and nestling red-dyed hard-boiled eggs. There are numerous local and not-so-local variations on this basic spiced bread.

I went with the christopsomos version since I did happen to have raising and cranberries, although I passed on the walnuts since we’re not big fans here.

So here we go, the step-by-step evolution of my first Artos bread…

The night before, I bulked up the sourdough starter (I could also have used a poolish but since I have the starter going anyway…), measured out all the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet (minus starter) in another. Basically, there are just two components: wet and dry stuff. In the morning, I let the wet stuff warm up from the fridge and added the 7 oz. of starter.


Then, dry ingredients, meet wet ingredients.


A quick stir by hand (decided to not fire up the KA mixer for this simple step). The dough is barely mixed, just enough to get practically all the dry stuff wet. There was still a bit of dry flour at the bottom but…


… this was going to easily be mixed into the dough. So out onto the lightly floured counter it went with all the remaining bits out of the bowl.


A little bit of kneading/stretching combo moves to get it a little more incorporated, here at the 1-minute mark. Not a lot of extra flour sprinkled on, just enough to keep it from sticking too badly to the counter. The bench scraper helps a lot. Note the dough, on the left,  is still rather shaggy. Eight minutes later, it’s decidedly smoother although still tacky enough to stick to the counter. Three or four sprinklings of flour while kneading was all it required.

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Windowpane test passes easily.


At this point, I added the raisins and cranberries. A quick bit of kneading and they are now incorporated in the dough. Into the tub for the first rise it goes, about 60 minutes until doubled.

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Once doubled, I shaped it into a boule (that’s French for “ball”) making sure to give it surface tension. It then gets a quick spray of oil and covered in cling film. 60 minutes later, it has done the final proofing and has expanded to about twice its size.


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Into the preheated 350º oven it goes…


Twenty minutes later, it gets spun 180º. I yank off the stray raisins to avoid them burning.


Another 20 minutes of baking and the inside has reached a hair over 190ºF. This loaf is done. And the house smells amazing.


Whip up a little glaze and give it a coating (no sesame seeds on hand) and there we have it: Christopsomo loaf made with both instant yeast and sourdough culture, ready to cool and tear into.


Man, that’s a big loaf!! I think I’d probably do two smaller batards next time.

Want the actual recipe? You’ll find it on page 111 of Peter Reinhart’s great book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, available at Amazon.

And lastly, of course, the Crumb Shot:


This is a lovely, lightly flavoured sweet bread, probably a little less spicy than I had expected. I might up the aromatics next time. But an hour out of the oven, it’s a soft, rather even crumb, I had it with just a little butter. Very, very nice. And surprising that it’s “sweet” considering there’s only 1/4c of honey in the whole thing.

This loaf is so big I was worried about what to do with it, especially since it has a sticky sugar glaze, putting it in a plastic bag would be a disaster. But I happen to have a big cake carrier and a spare large cake board so it’s now safe and sealed up, ready to be sliced over the next few days. It’ll make awesome toast, I’m sure. And bread pudding for the extra we just can’t get through.


You can see how other people are doing this same bread and compare the results and techniques.

Haley of Appoggiatura does the full-blown version here
Janice of Round the Table also gives a step-by-step
Oggie rates the process on I can do that!
Cindy of Salt and Serenity  takes it in a new direction

Be sure to visit these pages and get inspired.

Next on the list:
Bagels (redux)!

19 Replies to “Artos: #BBA Challenge Bread No. 2”

  1. What a beautiful BIG loaf. I did one big and one medium as I figured it would be huge in one loaf. I didn’t put any glaze on mine but maybe next time.
    You did great.
    Great baking with you,

  2. Very nice! I love this bread! Plan to make again and freeze to take on catering gig coming up. Going to make bread pudding! Happy Baking…

  3. Wow, turned out so nice. I think I will increase the spices as well. I like when it’s full of flavors and spicy. I may do half of the recipe also.

  4. Your bread is beautiful. I love the step by step photos. What a huge time committment to do that. I was glad to see the windowpane test photographed. I wanted to see it done by someone other than PR.


  5. Wow looks awesome! Great pictures too, I can’t get such good pictures of my cooking, I’m totally jealous! I’m making the plain Artos today, hope it turns out half as good as yours looks!

  6. What a simply divine looking bread! I love the photos that you’ve provided to show how things are meant to look along the way. The glaze looks fantastic, and I’m guessing the bread didn’t last too long once it was sliced open! Wonderful baking – thanks for sharing it with us and inspiring us along the way.

  7. Looks amazing! I am working on this bread this weekend so wish me luck. So far seems pretty straightforward just finding the flipping time.

    I do like the glaze on it a lot better.

    1. Thanks Jeff. Good luck on yours, although it’s really not a complex bread to make. But be forewarned it’s one BIG loaf, you may want to make it as two just for easier handling and storage.

      The glaze does look good, but it’s just water, sugar and honey so it does make the loaf sticky. And it doesn’t dry very well so it stays sticky. A bit of a problem if you need to store it in a bag. If you expect the loaf to disappear all at once, great, no issue. If you expect to store it, I’d say skip it as it’s merely for a “shiny” look.

  8. Wow, beautiful loaf!!! I certianly hope mine turns out that beautiful!! It’s rising now, although half an hour into the rise I realized that I forgot to add the fruits 🙁 SO I decided to go ahead and put them in and just hope for the best. Usually dough is pretty forgiving so I should be OK (I hope) and if not, lesson learned: be more prepared!


    1. Hi Jennet,

      I sort of did the same thing… I’d set it for it’s final proof, went to put some stuff away and realized I had cranberries and raisins sitting right there. So I was about 5-10 minutes into the proofing when I said “What the heck…” and then carefully flattened it out, spread the fruit (as seen in the pic) and then carefully massaged it a bit. Came out completely fine. But then it was just maybe 10 minutes in. Rose up fine… and HUGE…
      I’m sure you’ll be OK. Be sure to post pics when you’re done!

  9. I love your step-by-steps pictures. I posted my 1st bread on my blog and yesterday made this one. I’m not too crazy about it. I will try it in French Toast during the week-end. They boys did not want to taste it because of the cranberries. Thanks for helping us so much in this challenge. I read your comments and recommendation.

  10. Yes, this was one enormous loaf. Huge. And I could have eaten the whole thing by myself! Yours looks wonderful, and I love the step-by-step pictures.

  11. (shhhh, whispers: I love the spices. My “measurements” were all heaping.)

    I thought this was a huge loaf and I did the cross. Making all the dough into the boule would be extra huge ;o) but would still be sooooo good.
    Yes, I thought it was sweet for the small amount of honey. Perhaps some of the sweet was from a perfect spice mix.

    Wonderful step by steps!

  12. Nice photos!!
    I was amazed at how much this bread rose while proofing, and by how much oven spring it had… it was gigantic!
    Looking forward to seeing your bagels (which I’m going to check out right now)!

  13. Great writeup! I love your windowpane shot. Also, the bread studded with fruit has just a gorgeous crumb….beautiful crust. I’d say this was a major success!

  14. Glorious golden bread with fruit beautifully done.
    Thanks for sharing your photos and your recipe:)
    Come visit us @

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