Challah & Me – My first bread

Apr 12, 2010 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Recipes

The original recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Baking 2008 issue (but found it on here and I found this recipe through a Food website that sends you the headlines for several Food Blogs websites, (which I will register once my blog passes 90 days =).

Yeast, Water & Honey

Stir and wait around 10 minutes

Bubble and Foaming (this is 7mins)

I have always seen many Challah and other bread recipes, but I would usually never dare, I even bought the Baking with Julia Cookbook and I haven’t made a single biscuit.  I think you know when you are ready, so for first timers it is very important to be in the mood, because though this recipe is rather simple, you have to wait… and wait… and wait.

Adding salt, eggs and butter

Measuring the Flour

One of my favorite parts is stirring with the Wooden Spoon

Here is the recipe and my suggestions for changes will be on the honey, a friend of mine Adam (a really, really good bread baker) told me that the honey I used (orange blossom honey) is very mild so the next time I should try Grade B Maple Syrup, so I will!  I used Spring water and organic eggs and butter, regular Pillsbury Flour, I asked Adam if that flour was ok and he said that yes, with AP (all purpose) flour as long it is not “bleached” you are good to go, and then I asked back to my American dear friend “why do people buy Bleached Flour?” and he answered and I quote: “because it produces whiter bread and Americans are crazy for their pale “wonderbread”, you can blame the 1940′s and expensive advertising campaigns for that”. And I said, hey I also like white bread! But then I wouldn’t bake with bleached flour!

You can skip all this and go straight to the recipe clicking here, but if you want to read my adventure, my first love with bread then here I’m sharing my food journal:

111F warm Spring Water mixing with the honey and the yeast, hoping the yeast works fine since I don’t have too much honey to try again and it is very expensive!  Let stand for 10 minutes, it’s 7:22 am (I would have started before but I had to go and buy the flour around 6 am and got a little carried away hanging out in the baking section, I didn’t buy too much but thought “I want this, I want that, I could use this, I should buy that”, then at the register, looking at prices, almost $10 for a 1lb of almond, and me as usual “lady could you please remove that, yes please and the flax seed flour too, hehe, and the organic super ultra expensive eggs, yes thanks, you are a doll.”  Keeping the total under $10, yes I’m happy.

I saw like 2 bubbles and some foam and I was thrilled, then started snacking on them blackberries.

While I was kneading I thought to myself, why didn’t I make more bread before, this is great, very different than pie dough or cookie dough.  Then I remembered it is for the same reasons I don’t bake pies or cookies too often, calories!

So many things to think while I was kneading and if you are like me you will try your best to have everything under control and as I am about to finish kneading I remembered the “greased bowl” and I just have one and I used it for the bread mixture, that’s when having a loved one or a roommate comes in handy, he washed the bowl and I greased it, and he did those pictures because my hands were still covered in flour.

About to knead the flour

Kneading the Flour

Add oil to bowl

Finished kneading so the dough goes to the oiled bowl

Make sure the whole dough is covered with oil

Cover and stare or do something else for 1-1.5 hours

Again wait.  And you are supposed to say nice things to the dough, but if she is like me she can deal with some “you better double your size, and double pretty or I’ll  make Ciabatta next time and no more Challah” and I walked away.

I needed to go for a jog/walk I can’t wait 1 hour, I would literally stare at the dough and she may get scared.

When I came back she was fatty and double, just like the lady in the recipe promised “awesomeness!”, then the recipe says “punch, literally” and I did and I realized how the Boxing classes came handy for this one, I could do this forever, though it was just 1 punch! I turned the dough to a lightly floured surface, the only prep space in my tiny kitchen, I covered it with the towel, and again I had to wait, and wait 30 minutes this time.

Yes the lady doubled in size!

Funny felling punching the dough

Preferably a pastry cutter for this but boy I love my knife!

Cutting the dough in three pieces

I’m very hungry so this time I have a glass of chocolate milk.

I re-read the recipe and realized that she mentioned she doesnt like to braid 4 so she did 3, and thanks to playing with dolls when I was a kid, I remembered how to braid with 3 pieces, so I went again cut the dough in it, covered one half, then worked with this one and cut it in 3 and as I was playing with clay kneaded in a thick rope, the recipe says around 12 inches, but I don’t have a ruler so I use my 10″ knife as measurement, it worked.

Save half under a towel

Kneading the pieces into rope shapes, these first pieces, not too pretty but…

the second one is way better, so yes after your first kneading it will just get easier and easier!

The first one as you can see doesn’t look as pretty as the second one, but it’s ok, they are both my creation and I love them the same and will eat them the same.  Pre heat the oven 350F, the ladies rest and I start thinking what to serve with this bread for breakfast.

Be gentle for the braiding and enjoy the lovely light texture of the dough

The beauty and the beast, but they both tasted great afterwards, no shame!

More resting, so you can then…

egg wash for them to look pretty and gold!

Remember to turn the sheet halfway of baking…

Voilá!

After they rested I brushed the egg wash and place them in the oven, halfway I turned them around and then when ready took them off and placed on cooling rack.

Now I fried myself and egg and made scrambled eggs for the Boy, we have cranberry and orange juice and lots of butter and cheese. I had my fun!

Yum

¡a comer!

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