Today I decided to make bread and not just any bread Challah Bread! If you’ve never made bread before you’d be surprised how easy, inexpensive and amazing it is…but why Challah Bread? Read on and be not afraid of the rising yeast!
There is something to be said about tradition. Growing up in a Puerto Rican household in Brooklyn the traditions came in many forms from superstitions to what holiday requires what foods. It was all mainly food based now that I think of it, but is food really a tradition or traditional? And is the tradition the act of when and how to eat? Hmmm..
In my own family Momma Gladys always makes a ham on Easter and a roast pork shoulder on Christmas. As time went on and my brother and I grew up all other traditions kinda fell to the wayside. Now, my brother and his wife are certainly building their own traditions for my niece and my mom has her boyfriend and their traditions, so that really just leaves poor single me…traditionless…(insert sobs here, hahah)
Actually, I have some created fabulous traditions of my own over the past few years. Big Gay Thanksgiving and my Xmas Eve fowl & carols are just a few. Regardless, I am a sap for tradition in whatever form it may be, especially when it’s a tradition that is not of my own faith or family. Most recently with the downloading of the new ios6 (the iPhone system upgrade for those of you unfamiliar), I have really become a Podcast junkie. My favorite one? The NPR Food podcast.
A recent one I listened to was about Challah bread and the tradition behind it. From the symbolism of when and why it is eaten and what the different braids mean it all really got my inner traditional sap going! What really got me the most though was the fact that when making challah you are supposed to take a piece of the dough, say a prayer and then burn it. It’s all about taking a moment of quiet and reflection. I loved that! So, I embarked this evening on making a challah (or two…i got impatient the first time) in the most fabulously traditional way I knew how.
You’ll find that if you have a little extra time in your day it really is simple! Don’t take any shortcuts cause it won’t work plus it’s easy! So, go sort out your doll collection while you wait for to things to happen!
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 envelope activated yeast
3 3/4 cup of flour (divided)
2 Eggs (lightly beaten), plus one for the wash.
1 TBS Dark Brown Sugar
2 TBS Honey (Local is best)
1 tsp salt
4 TBS Olive Oil
1 cup Apple Butter (I used Musselman’s which was a super delicious find btw)
1. In a large (non-metallic) bowl combine 3/4 cup flour with yeast and whisk to combine. Then add water and let rest till it’s bubbly/foamy and fragrant (aka this is when the yeast proofs) It’ll take about 10 mins give or take.
2. Add the egg, salt, honey, sugar to the proofed yeast and whisk by hand to combine. Now, break out your hand or stand mixer and put on the dough hooks. (Those are those spiraly metal thingys that you never use)
3. A cup at a time, add the remaining 3 cups of flour as you use the dough hooks to incorporate it all. (You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.) You know your done ’cause the dough comes off cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
4. Turn the dough out onto a clean. floured surface and using your hands, gently knead the oil into the dough. Then do the same with the apple butter. Incorporating the apple butter a little at a time worked best for me. If it gets sticky flour it lightly.
5. Once incorporated put it in a clean greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and set it aside till the dough rises to double its size. It should take a couple of hours at room or longer if you put it in the fridge.
6. Once risen punch it down (this part is super fun!) and cover it again to let it rise a second time! Think of it like it’s marinating in all those fun flavors!!
7. Once it has risen again you get to have a good time braiding it just like you did your Barbie’s hair! Just flour your surface, divide into however many parts the braid calls for and go to town! The braid I used was round and you can find it by clicking here…Round Braid you can also find another fun braid here… braiding is for bread!
8. Once braided place on a cookie/baking sheet and let rise one last time.
9. Preheat the oven to 375 and brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with one tsp of water) Bake bread for 35 to 40 mins till golden!
Let me know how it goes folks! L’chaim!