Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bread Baker's Challenge.... Greek Celebration Bread!

It was a challenge, but I figured out the baker’s percentages for the poolish used in this bread.  I really only wanted enough poolish for this recipe, not enough to make 2 or 3 more recipes!  We just don't eat that much bread!  Thank you to whoever made that wonderful spreadsheet I used!  It really helped a lot. I found it on this website, but am not quite sure where the link to it is!

I am a part of BBA Challenge 2011, and am going to try to follow their schedule of baking.  I just wanted to learn from a great baker like Peter Reinhart.  His book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, inspired me because it gave me the science behind bread making.  It spent the time to give me the greatest gift of all, understanding of what exactly is happening in each step of bread making.  I have baked for many years, or maybe I should call it banging my head against a wall wondering why some breads turned out so much better than others.  If I am going to thank Peter Reinhart I must also remember to thank The Fresh Loaf, which has many very experienced bread bakers who spend a lot of time helping people make extraordinary bread.  Anyone can make ordinary bread, some loafs will be ok and some will be a failure and you just won’t know why.  But with a little bit of knowledge and help from people who have gone through it themselves you can make bread in your own kitchen that rivals the local grocery stores if not the local bakers!  The best part is that you will start to understand why it works and doesn't work. 
Onto the actual bread, I chose Christopsomos this week which to me almost looks like an alien.  You know, creatures from outer space!  I decided that since this is a bread that reflects the special occasion it is made for, that is must be a very Blueberry weekend coming up.  Yes, my fruit of choice is dried blueberries which are totally awesome.  I also chose to use almonds instead of walnuts, simply because walnuts make me sick and almonds don’t! 
I started by measuring and weighing and gathering all my ingredients and equipment, “mise en place” which means everything in it’s place.  Makes a bigger mess, but sure helps you not forget things.  Rather like the scout motto, “Be Prepared”.

From GreekCelebrationBread

I mixed the ingredients, with the only variation being that I used the milk to prepare my Active Dry Yeast by soaking for 10 minutes.

I followed this with adding the poolish to the milk and yeast, using the paddle to mix them. Then I added the other liquid ingredients and used the paddle on setting 2 to mix them.

After I finished mixing them together to make a smooth liquid, I added the dry ingredients and used the paddle to form them into a sticky gooey mess. At first I held back some of the flour, but when I saw how moist it was I went ahead and added it and used the paddle to mix. I took the paddle off at this point and put the dough hook on. The recipe did not call for an autolyse, but I gave it 20 minutes because it was so shaggy looking. This seemed to help the dough a lot.  I then used my dough hook on setting 2 for about 10 minutes, what a mess it looks like.

I measured the blueberries and almonds and added them to the mixer, then used the dough hook on setting 2 to mix them in. Still looks pretty wet and messy, but when I touch it the dough feels tacky not sticky.

It is now formed into two balls and put into separate bowls to rise for 90 minutes. They shaped nicely, and didn't stick to my hands nearly as much as I thought they might. This has been a fun bread to make so far.

The second picture is at 82 minutes, I think this will need a little bit longer to rise. My house is definitely not as warm as other peoples.

This dough is really awesome, so supple and easy to handle. I loved it. The boule is made and the long strips are ready to go on top.

Next comes placing the strips and cutting, then making the little curly things at the ends.

The decoration on top looks a little bit out of shape, but hopefully it will look better before it's done! Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good!  Will edit this tomorrow with a picture of the crumb, that is if I can wait!


  1. That's a great looking crumb, Joanne. I'm impressed by the whole loaf! Maybe I should have tried using my mixer and/or the autolyse step with mine.

  2. Your bread looks amazing. I love how you did your photography/1

  3. Thanks! I love taking pictures and editing them. I find it to be quite fun to try to get my thoughts out in pictures. Thanks for the nice compliment on my bread too...