giant loaf of Greek Celebration Bread!!
My baby will turn 2 this summer. I've been sorting through baby clothes and donating baby gear. But it's a little emotional, moving on to the next phase in life. And I think in the wake of this "no more babies in the house" reality, I've been subconsciously looking for something else that will keep me up late at night, something that will require my attention and nurturing every couple of hours. Something like bread.
My first baby was born a couple of weeks early, and had a rough entry into the world. I had a conversation with my husband when he was about 6 months old.
C: I remember when they first showed me Jacob after he was born. I could not even believe how beautiful he was. All I could think was "Oh my gosh! He is perfect!" What did you think when you first saw him?
D: I thought "Oh my gosh! He is purple!"
And when some friends of ours had a baby, David and I spoke with our friend B, the dad, when he called us from the hospital after the baby was born:
C: Well, who does he look like? You or A?
B: Um. He sort of looks like Winston Churchill.
D: That's okay. All babies look like Winston Churchill.
But see, that's the thing. Mothers are blinded by love and pride when it comes to their children; they don't notice the purple and they NEVER think that their babies look like Winston Churchill. And such was definitely the case with me when my new baby, Artos, was born freakishly large:
We wrapped Artos in swaddling clothes and took lots of pictures:
Here is Jacob, the proud big brother, with his new baby bread:
Shortly after Artos was born, the nurse whisked him away to check his vitals. He was a perfect 190 degrees inside, and measured a whopping 18.5" x 6.5" x 4". Big boy!
Uh-oh. I feel a "beat the already-ridiculous metaphor to death" moment coming on.
Here is Artos' ultrasound picture, when he was just a bun in the oven:
Sorry about that.
Well, looks like I've gone off on some silly tangent again, and now if I take the time to actually talk about the bread in detail, this post will become way too long. I suggest you check out other #BBA blogs to get some real information about the bread. Just a couple of quick highlights about my Artos:
* Artos is a Greek Celebration Bread. It's a sweet bread, filled with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, lemon zest, almond extract, honey, raisins, and almonds.
* There are several options for shaping this bread, but I decided to braid Artos. Peter Reinhart provides excellent, detailed step-by-step photographs of braiding techniques. His techniques require you to (mentally) number the strands of bread; for example, for the triple braid that I did, you've got, from left to right, 1, 2, and 3. But I was afraid that I would lose track of which was which when I started braiding; for example, once 1 goes over 2, is 1 now 2 and 2 now 1? My head started spinning just thinking about it, so I numbered my strands with dried cherries:
Pretty clever, eh?
* Here is Artos, fully braided and ready for his final rise:
I'm not quite sure why Artos was as ginormous as he was. Funny -- when I started baking bread, I was afraid that my dough wouldn't rise. Now I'm afraid that my dough won't stop rising.
Well, there is really no way to make this transition gentle. We ate Artos. And we really enjoyed him! He made great toast, and even better french toast. David really enjoyed the multicultural aspect of having Greek Celebration French Toast (it took me a while to get what he was talking about, but I'm a little slow that way).
Greek Celebration Bread, or Artos, is the second recipe in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I'm baking through the book with my slow & steady subgroup buddies, and as part of the larger #BBA group. Next up: bagels!
4 months ago