Monday, August 1, 2011

BBA #2: Greek Celebration Bread

Bread number two in the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge is the Greek Celebration Bread. While it certainly won't become my everyday bread, the combination of spices and sweeteners really grew on me.

The dough includes cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, orange extract, almond extract, eggs, honey and olive oil, all of which contribute something slightly different to the bread. Once it's removed from the oven, it's glazed with sugar, honey, orange extract and sesame seeds. The glaze is thin, but it adds just the right amount of sweetness to the bread. 

I added the spices to the flour in different locations so I could make sure I had them all before mixing. 
This bread required me to make a poolish, a simple to make and delightful to say wet sponge that serves as the starter for several of the breads in the book. 

Reinhart says that every 17 degree change in temperature effectively doubles or halves the proofing time. For example, if a bread doubles in size in 90 minutes at 70 degrees, then it will only take 45 minutes if the temperature is 87 degrees. So when it's in the 90s, as it was while I was baking this bread, the proofing time is even quicker. I think it proofed a bit too much because I didn't realize this would happen until after!

This dough was a joy to work with, soft and supple and with so many added ingredients that the dough stayed moist. I had to add almost 1/4 cup more flour so that it didn't stick to the counter! 

Cook's Illustrated this month had a tip about bread kneading. They suggested just adding a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the counter instead of flouring the surface. That way the bread doesn't absorb any unneeded flour. Has anyone tried this? I'm curious as to how it would work!

The finished bread was great toasted or just served warm with butter. 

As part of the BBA Challenge, we're not posting recipes from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. If you are interested, get the book and bake along with us!

I'm also having a little trouble getting Blogger to cooperate. It keeps inserting these extra empty lines into my posts, often between paragraphs. Does anyone know why they are there or how I can remove them? Thanks!


  1. Katie, your artos looks beautiful! Love the shot of all of the spices in your bowl. This bread makes *the best* French toast...seriously, if you have any left, you have to try it! As for the oil on the counter trick, I often use it, especially for really wet doughs like ciabatta. I've heard that if you add too much oil, it can mess with the composition of your bread, so I try to just use enough to coat my hands and then rub it on the counter. For breads like sandwich loaves where you're not going for that open texture, I tend to just use a floured counter.

  2. Great looking bread! You did a nice job outside and inside. We liked this's different and not an every day bread, but a celebration bread every once in awhile. We liked making French Toast with it, too. Yes, I have done the oil on the counter with the Dan Lepard bread recipes I have made and it works nicely. With the PR breads, I stick to his methods in the book so I can learn those ways as well. After awhile (and I did not think this was going to be possible when I first started and people told me this) you learn to know how much flour to add...the bread tells you this by feel, etc. I didn't get it at first, but after awhile, it's true, you just feel it when you knead the dough and when there is enough flour, you know to stop at the right time. Hard to explain and describe, but it happens. I knead all my bread by hand, I don't use the mixer as I love the feel of the bread changing under my hands, in texture, and in temperature, you can feel the warmth and after awhile you know without taking the temperature when it is just right. feel so accomplished with the little things along the way. This is a great book.

  3. I sort of avoided this bread on purpose from the book but after reading your post I can't remember why I did. Maybe your pictures are nicer than his ;) looks tasty

  4. Abby--That's so helpful to hear about the countertop. I'll definitely take that advice next time I bake bread. I finished it all, but I wish I had saved some for French Toast. Yum! I could see the spices working really nicely for that!

    Katye--It does seem smart to try doing it the way it's suggested in the book. Although I'm only on bread #2, I already feel like I have a better sense of how the dough is supposed to feel than I used to, but I can tell I have a lot more to learn. I also love kneading the bread by hand. It's good exercise too! I'm really loving this cookbook.

    Stephanie--Thank you! I wanted to avoid this bread too, but I'm glad I made it!

  5. Gorgeous bread! I've been meaning to make it but have just been waiting for the right occasion so I don't eat the whole thing myself!

  6. Your loaf and crumb look great! Too bad none is left for french toast, guess you will have to make it again! We really enjoyed the holiday flavor of this one too bad it's in the middle of summer! It's been HOT here too in NC, not indusive to heat up the house.

  7. I bought Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday and I'm really looking forward to baking some whole wheat sandwich bread. But it's so hot in Toronto that I can't use the oven (except late at night and early in the morning...)

    Your bread looks so brown and crusty (: