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Artos: Greek Celebration Breads

Artos Greek Celebration Breads

I bought my first bread book about 11 years ago thinking that it would be fun to try out a few recipes, before the end of that year, I had made more than half of the recipes in that book, using mostly white flour. Most of the breads were enriched with eggs, milk, pureed vegetables, cheese or olives. Then I slowly moved on to recipes using less yeast and more whole grain flours. And about five years ago, my dear friend K. gave me a jar of her sourdough, I started experimenting the next day and I fell in love with it. I then bought countless bread books and studied them; I got to learn some the science behind it.

The recipe below is made with wild yeast and is enriched with milk, oil and eggs. It’s soft but not sticky and very easy to handle, similar to challah in a lot ways but includes milk.

I adapted the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Bakers Apprentice, he explains that Artos refers to all the Greek celebration breads and the dough is shaped depending on the celebration and certain ingredients are added for specific holidays. For Easter, mastic and mahlepi are added to the dough and it’s braided.

This bread is also known as or tsureki, it is a leaner dough than the Turkish one, which I’ll be posting next. The recipe below makes one massive loaf or two more manageable ones. I am sending this to yeastspotting.

  • 1 cup liquid sourdough starter, 100% hydration
  • 3 ½ cup unbleached flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp instant yeast (I usually don’t add commercial yeast)
  • ½ -1 tbsp ground mahlepi
  • 1 tsp finely mastic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sunflower seed oil or olive oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¾ cup whole milk, lukewarm

Glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp water

Optional topping:

  • Sliced almonds

Feed the sourdough starter about 12 hours before you mix the bread. Remove 1 cup of the starter and let it come to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor (it’s also easy to make by hand), combine the flour, salt and yeast, if using. Using a mortar and pestle, finely grind a piece of mastic with sugar. Mastic tends to stick, so using a little bit of sugar makes it easier to grind. Add it to the flour mixture, mix for a second to combine. Add the eggs, oil, honey and the milk, mix until the dough forms.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, the dough should not be sticky at this point, it should be soft but should not stick to your hands, if it’s still sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel, ferment the dough until it doubles in volume, this should take about an hour and a half, or more if you used less yeast or omitted it completely.

Once the dough has risen, gently degas it and divide into 3 if making one large loaf and 6 if making 2 smaller loaves.

Shape each piece into about 12 inches ropes, braid and transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover the shaped bread(s) with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a tea towel and let them proof until almost doubled, this will take about an hour or more if you didn’t include the commercial yeast.

Preheat the oven the 350F and prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the egg with water, brush all over the loaf making sure not to miss a spot, let it stand for 5 minutes and brush again with the egg wash, sprinkle with sliced almonds, if using and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown, has a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom and a thermometer inserted in the middle of loaf registers 210F.

Once baked, transfer the bread(s) to a wire rack and let them cool. Serve with fresh butter and jam, or a little honey.

Artos Greek Celebration Breads

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14 comments to Artos: Greek Celebration Breads

  • Carole

    You are so talented, the bread looks so light and airy and delicious. I don’t think I have ever seen mastic or mahlepi before. Where can I find it?

  • LindenTea

    Thank you for your visit, comment and nice words Carole. You can find mahlepi and mastic in most Middle Eastern stores in North America. Mastic is the resin of the mastic tree and mahlepi or commonly called mahlab is the ground seeds of wild sour cherries. If you buy the mahlepi seeds, make sure to grind them very finely before adding it to the dough.

  • This looks wonderful. I make lots of breads but have never tried sourdough. Maybe this’ll inspire me.

  • Once again a GORGEOUS loaf of bread. Makes my mouth water :-)

  • Beautiful, Megi! I wish we lived closer so you could teach me how to make such beautiful bread!

  • Oh, Megi….your bread looks absolutely gorgeous!
    I have started a sourdough starter( not wild…has 1/4 tsp yeast) that I hope to use this week as practice:)…you’ve inspired me to make some of your beautiful breads!
    I am making your millet and bean salad tomorrow:)…

  • Megi…I have GOT to learn how to make some good bread. But then I think about how little I actually eat bread and wonder what I would do with it all!
    You would be so proud of me…I’m trying to spout my own quinoa. It does LOOK easy. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • LindenTea

    Rivki, if you like to bake bread, I think you would really like sourdough.

    MegSmith, thank you. :)

    Susan, I would love to live closer and bake bread together, this one is made with sourdough but next I am planning on posting the Turkish version which is a straight dough made with commercial yeast, I think you would like that one. :)

    Thank you Ellie, I really hope you like the millet and bean salad. You make such wonderful breads that I can’t wait to see what you’ll make with the new sourdough starter.

  • LindenTea

    Hi Dawn, how good to hear you are sprouting quinoa, I have several things sprouting, the one I am most excited about is chia, I have never had chia sprouts and they look very pretty already. :)

  • Wow, this bread looks professionally made. I bet it tastes amazing!!

  • Mükemmel bir tarif… Ben de denedim, çok ama çok güzel oluyor. Özellikle kızartıp üzerine biraz bal sürerek yemenizi tavsiye ederim. Ellerine sağlık sevgili Megi.

  • Hi, Megi!

    Thanks for the compliment! Yes, I’m sure the chicken would be fine made ahead & reheated with the cheese in the oven – I would just recommend covering it with foil to help the cheese melt. It was so tender!

    I will look forward to trying your Turkish bread recipe, too! Enjoy your day!

  • Hi Megi, I have a question about the comment you left on my blog. Spelt flour sounds intriguing. Will have to try that some time. Do you have a challah recipe that uses spelt? I would so appreciate if you could post it on my blog or email it to me. (My email is in my blogger profile.) Thanks so much.

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