Monday, May 11, 2015

If The Challah Bakes, Eat It!

Yes, I'm still baking challah. Yes, I'm still working off of this recipe. And, yes, I'm still fighting with my oven whenever I bake bread. But you know what? I'm really pretty happy with how this effort! I think I'm starting to understand this recipe and the process it entails. Or, rather, I'm beginning to develop a relationship with this recipe. 

A "relationship" with a recipe. I just read what I typed above and for half a second even I thought I sounded kind of, well, you know: nuts. But in all honesty, I have to admit that this is a real thing with me and recipes. I find ones that I like, or they find me, and I bake them once or twice and if I feel good about them after the second time, I know they'll be around for a while. I begin to learn their ins and outs and they teach me what I don't know. Constantly. I am definitely in a relationship with my scone recipe and my pie dough recipe. I'm on the verge of a relationship with my new ginger-lemon cream cookie recipe.

We Interrupt This Pronouncement Of Esoteric Ephemera... bring you this word from Reality: I find recipes I like. I bake them until I get the hang of them. I serve them to people who tend to like them. And so it goes.

Interruption of Pronouncement Of Esoteric Ephemera Ends

The bottom line about this challah recipe is that it's turning out good loaves more often than not, and each one is better than the last. And that makes me happy. 

I baked up a couple of loaves to serve some folks who were coming over to visit last Sunday, so I got up at 4:30 a.m. to get a good jump on things. I side-stepped a potential problem by realizing I'd have to add more water (for whatever reason) than the recipe called for. I believe I'm starting to develop a baker's intuition. And it's about danged time, too! I've tossed more baked goods than I care to admit because I've not been able to tell when I'm about to screw up and how to correct the damage before it happens. 

After all the dough gathering and kneading, the rising went well and I ended up with these, ready for one last rise before I popped them into the oven:

The good kind of inflation.
My braiding can be tighter but I'm getting better at pinching off the ends.

Thirty five minutes of keeping as close a watch on my recalcitrant oven as I could and...:

A baker and his loaves.
Best yet!

Our guests went through a little more than half a loaf. I took the rest of that one with me to work to have with my coffee over the next couple of days. I gave the other loaf to Michele to take to work with her. At lunch time she shared this in the virtual world:

"Ahhh, summer. My husband sent me to work with a home-baked loaf of challah bread so I took a leisurely stroll down to the Polish butcher on 2nd Ave for some of their special ham (omg so good. why don't I buy this every week??), the good mustard, and a little container of beets with horseradish, just because, and a leisurely stroll back under the newly leaved trees & blooming wisteria.. Also, lilacs were acquired. Because why shouldn't Monday have lilacs in it?? So very nice. And for an hour of Monday I pretended it was still Sunday. And, it was."

I responded with: 

"You are going to make me expel droplets of moisture from my light-activated visual acquisition orbs."

To which she responded:

"What can I say? You inspired a superb lunch break." And she sent this to me:

My sweetie's lunch
She also told me that one of her co-workers wasn't going to have any of the bread until she found out it was challah and then she made a mad dash for the loaf. After Michele explained that I wasn't Jewish, and that she had given me cultural reference and guidance, this co-worker pronounced it "the real deal".

And I can't ask for more than that.

Currently listening to: Bic Runga - Election Night 




  1. You may not ever have leftovers but challah makes the best bread pudding.

    1. So far, no leftovers. If I ever do have them, though, they'll definitely be going into a bread pudding! Challah also makes marvelous French toast (and, unfortunately, there won't be any left for that, either)!