It has been a crazy week of baking, and I am way behind on my posts! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, actually. My graduation is almost exactly 2 months away (!), so I’ve been working very hard to avoid any kind of reflective activities…better to deny the stress and put a hold on any attempts to plan my future, right?
Well, seeing as I’ve been exploding into a near-tearful rant with friends and family lately about my lack of a future, I think any plans to avoid the subject have already failed. So, back to blogging and telling you about my stress. Thanks for listening, as always.
Last Friday we hosted a potluck at our apartment, and it was such a great reminder to just live in the present and appreciate all the wonderful people that I get to call my friends. (Yeesh, do you have a tissue?)
It was also a great excuse for me to play Jewish housewife for a day. (Yeah, I’ve been there before…) I literally spent the whole day cooking – challah, quiche, and pumpkin bread. (I loved all of it except the dishes.)
Challah is a braided egg bread that is traditionally eaten on Shabbat. I have made it on my own once before, and yes, it is a bit of a project, but bread is one of the most satisfying things you can make, in my opinion. My mom makes homemade challah sometimes for Shabbat, so she served as my inspiration. It somehow makes the whole dinner more meaningful, so I thought that it was perfect for the first gathering at our apartment.
The recipe tells you to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes after you’ve combined all the ingredients. I, however, had to keep at it for more like 25 minutes, because I paused so frequently to wipe gobs of dough off my fingers and yell at the insistently sticky bread dough. You have to keep adding flour as necessary so that the dough becomes elastic, and not sticky. But the less flour you can add, the lighter the bread will turn out. So, I suffered through a little frustration to try to get my challah just right. Pounding the dough was a good release of energy, though.
Not a lot of process pictures, because of the pound of dough that was permanently stuck to my fingers.
They didn’t turn out as good as my mom’s, of course, but my expectations weren’t quite that high. And after all that work, pumpkin bread seemed almost too easy. (I promise I’ll share that recipe, too!)
The potluck was so much fun – thanks to everyone who brought food or wine! And thanks to the few who tried to uphold the promise of an epic dance party… the 3 of us did have fun!
recipe adapted from Marcy Goldman…by my mom.
*note: The first step in this recipe is proofing the yeast, which will help you make sure that nothing goes wrong and that you’ll get a nice rise from the yeast. Combine the yeast with hot water (but not so hot that it would scald your fingers – that would kill the yeast) and a pinch of sugar. After about 10 minutes you should see the mixture get foamy, and you’ll know that everything has gone correctly.
**another note: When you let the dough rise for the first time, place it in a greased bowl, and then flip it over so that both sides are slightly greased (that will keep it from drying out). I covered the bowl with a damp paper towel and left it in the microwave (what my mom does, of course). Make sure to let it sit until it seems to have doubled in size.
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
Pinch of sugar
½ cup honey
3 teaspoons salt
½ cup oil
4-4 1/2 cups bread flour
2-21/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 egg and 1 tablespoon water for the egg wash
In mixing bowl combine yeast, water and pinch of sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.
Mix in honey, oil, salt, eggs and about 5 cups of flour. Knead by hand or dough hook for 8-10 minutes. While kneading add flour as needed to create elastic ball. Place dough in greased bowl and cover for 45-90 minutes. (You can also leave in refrigerator over night.)
The dough makes 2-4 hallahs. (I make 4 small hallahs and freeze two and they are excellent when unthawed.) Divide dough into the number of breads desired. Divide each into three pieces and braid. Lay breads on parchment-covered cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash. Let dough rise 20-30 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.