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
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp water
- 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.