Traditional styles of bread from a Greek bakery
If you are interested in Greek food and recipes from Greece, then you will need to know about the different styles of Greek bread available. The modern word for bread in Greek is “Psomi”, which means 'a morsel'. This suggests something that is both tasty and desirable, and also something which is quite rich. However, the ancient Greeks used another term, “artos”. The ancients used this term because they added Greek herbs and spices to their breads, including rosemary, salt and fruit as well as cardamom and cinnamon. Although the term for bread has changed, many of the recipes have stayed the same, and are still highly flavoured. Any Greek bakery will have a range of sweet breads which are flavoured in a very similar way to the ancient artos.
The most popular breads in Greece are still those which are made in the local area, and are bought fresh.
There is a Greek bakery in every town which offers a variety of breads, from small sticks known as bastounakia, heavily flavoured with salt
Special breads and sometimes with either pepper or with caraway seeds. Breads made with olives are also very popular, including muffins known as eliopsomakia which are made during the summer. Many types of bread will also have sesame seeds either in the dough or sprinkled on top. Tea rolls known as psomakia me prozeme are served at breakfast along with sesame-seed rolls. The most common type of bread is still rusks, often eaten at funerals or made with sweet butter as a kind of sweet biscuit.
The traditional Greek bakery will also supply foods for special events such as holidays and celebrations. The typical bread of Christmas, for example, known as Christopsomo, is made with sweet dough which is flavoured with almonds, raisins and lemon peel. It may also be served with dried figs which are diced and sprinkled into the mixture. Vasilopita is made on the first day of the New Year, with lucky coins hidden inside, and made to almost cake-like bread. Easter breads can include the Tsoureki which is a bread twisted into a braid and then decorated using red Easter eggs. The flavour of this bread is obtained from spices from a Mahlepi tree. The texture of the bread is similar to that of the Vasilopita, with a sweet texture. In some instances, the Greek bakery will make a version of this bread all year round, removing the Easter eggs and instead decorating the top of the bread with sesame seeds. In these cases, the loaf is braided lengthwise to give it a rope-like look, and it is eaten as ordinary bread.