Friday, April 23, 2010

Another challah

I wasn't going to make challah this week.

Ok, that's not quite true. Last week I forgot to make challah. And this week I was going to take the two frozen loaves of challah out to defrost and bake those. So there was always going to be challah, it just wasn't going to be made from scratch today. But I got inspired when I was perusing recipes online. (Seriously, it never occurred to me when I started trying challah recipes just how many there are! This is a lot of fun, and I am not sure there is an end in sight!) I found this recipe, and figured, why not?

Originally I was going to make a half batch. As I said, I already have two unbaked loaves in the freezer, and how much challah do we really need? But, for some reason, I made the whole thing... You;ll see how much that made, and you can decide for yourself if that was the right call or not! I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. To begin with, I do not have instant yeast, so I used dry active and let it proof. Second, I did not have as much honey as the recipe called for. So I used some honey and some brown sugar. Finally, I used three eggs instead of four. I know challah is an eggy bread, but when reading the reviews I saw one comment saying the reader had made the recipe forgetting to add the eggs at all, and that the results were still very good. So I figured, if the recipe is that forgiving, I will try one less egg.

The yeast proofed well, giving me hopes for some well risen loaves. Then the rest of the ingredients were added. Oh yeah - I did sub in some whole wheat flour at this point, too... As usual I let the KitchenAid do the kneading for me. I love letting the machine do the hard work for me! (The only drawback - the kneading tends to tighten the bowl, making it hard to remove for washing. If that's the worst, I think I am doing all right!) Into the oiled bowl to rise went the well kneaded dough. I knew I was not going to be ready to bake the dough in the hour and a half it called for to rise. So after an hour I moved the bowl into the refrigerator. When I checked it a short while later, it was already about doubled in size... So I decided to give it an extra rise - I punched it down and put it back into the fridge. Then it was time to meet a friend for lunch.

When I was ready to shape the dough, I took the brave step, encouraged by the recipe writer, and chose to make a four strand braid. I have never done this before. I tried the six strand braid once, remember? I am not sure I am ready to try that one again - not without some pretty patient help! But the four strand braid? Sure, I haven't been scared off of that one yet! (In the interest of full disclosure, I did practice with a little bit of yarn, first, so at least I felt like I knew what I was doing!) I think I even did it right! The braids looked pretty nice! Now, the recipe said that there would be enough dough to make two large loaves. I didn't want large loaves. So I made these two middle sized loaves and three tiny, Little Girl sized rolls. That used half of the dough... I then had enough to make four (yes, FOUR) small loaves which were wrapped up unbaked and put into the freezer. (For those of you keeping track, I now have six loaves of challah in my freezer...)
The challah baked up beautifully. The outside was nice and golden and the inside was smooth and fluffy. That is my kind of challah!! And Little Girl LOVED the roll I gave her with dinner. She ate the whole thing. She would have put it all in her mouth at once if we had let her... So another successful recipe for us... I wonder how many more there will be...!

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