Challah (Without Trainer Wheels)
Of course, different people prefer different breads. I like variety, but I am here to say that I love challah.
Being a newcomer to baking, I’ve only tried eight or ten different breads. And probably half my bakes have been some variation on Sourdough Pain de Campagne (Hamelman and dmsnyder, for instance). I’ve managed to learn “on the job” pretty quickly, thanks to lots of reading, TFL tips and occasional chats with David.
But challah seemed like a different animal. All those ingredients, and the braiding and all. So I had decided that I wanted to try baking challah for the first time in a “science lab” setting. You know, with the teacher partly showing you and partly telling you how to do it. Letting you make your own mistakes, but with a safety net. “No, it isn’t really best to tie the challah in a slip knot shape; try this nice three-strand braid.”
I was fortunate enough to find myself this weekend in Dr. Snyder’s bread lab. With all the ingredients for challah, and with a lot of turkey to be sandwiched for a lot of Snyders. What were we to do?
David gave excellent instruction. I know my kneading, strand-rolling and braiding technique were enhanced by the guidance of an experienced challah-er. And the results were more than merely edible (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20820/thanksgiving-2010-baking). There’s something really fun about team baking.
Having returned from Fresno yesterday, in time to roast some turkey parts for sandwiches, my self-assigned homework today was to bake more challah, but this time all alone! Without trainer wheels or a net! [oooooh!]
I used the same formula as a few days earlier—Maggie Glezer’s “My Challah” from A Blessing of Bread. It is a yeasted dough and the whole things takes about 7 hours. It’s easy if you know how to do it. Here's today's homework.
I am happy with everything about this bread: appearance, melt-in-the-mouth texture and –especially- the flavor. Just sweet enough, just eggy enough.
I know that sourdough challah is supposed to have a longer shelf life, but with bread that tastes this good, I’m not worried about it getting stale before it disappears. During the course of a quick dinner of Turkey sandwiches, between “yummms”, my chief bread-tester informed me: “this would make great cinnamon toast.” “this would be great for grilled cheese sandwiches,” and “this would be great for French toast”. I think we have a winner.
Thanks for the recipe, Ms. Glezer. And thanks for the seminar, David.