This story starts a few days back. It was Thursday I think and everyone just seemed to do and say the wrong things. It's hard to explain. Small talk and unhealthy curiosity can really rub me the wrong way so I came home and thought, I'm gonna have a coffee, sit on the couch and do nothing for a while and then bake bread. I proceeded in that order and by the time the dough had risen twice I was starting to feel a little better about things. That yeasty smell in the kitchen was doing good things for me. By the time the Bread was baking and I was having my second coffee and scribbling in my book, I heard the ding ding of a message from a friend who asked the first good question of the day: "What are you gonna put on that bread?" By the time I'd waited for the loaf to cool and sliced into it and contemplated its fate, it seemed so obvious. Butter. So I let him know that was the decision and of course, he agreed it was a sound one. Things were feeling better already...
Recipe: Challah Loaf (makes two loaves)
1 1/4C warm water
2 tsp dry active yeast
4C (roughly) All Purpose/Bread Flour
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C Vegetable Oil
Sesame or poppy seeds for the top
Whisk the water, yeast, one tsp sugar and 1/4c flour to get things bubbling. Set this aside for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 20.
Whisk in the sugar, oil, 3eggs (NOT 4) and salt. Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time mixing with a sturdy wooden spoon until the dough is coming together into one ball and not sticking too much. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes adding flour if needed, until the dough is round, smooth, elastic, and "cohesive".
Put the ball in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a reasonably warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk. About an hour. Maybe more.
Punch down and divide into 6 equal parts to make two braided loaves on a baking sheet that's either well-greased or parchment lined. Cover and let rise again until doubled and good looking. Preheat the oven to 325. Beat the last egg with a touch of milk or water and give the tops of the loaves a good egg wash, followed by seeds if you're into that. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom. If the tops are browning too fast cover with foil and return to the oven.
Wait till they're cool if you can. It's hard but it's worth it... There's something else I did with my Challah that will have to be the topic for the next post.