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20 January 2008

Playing in the Kitchen

It being so cold this weekend, I wanted to bake. Discovering Bread Baking Day gave me a direction to go! This month they are doing shaped breads. I've been doing round loaves with slashes for quite some time: they're easy to d and bake up so pretty! So I wanted to do something new. A bit of browsing around and I realized that it seemed like a number of folks were doing Challah, which I had never heard of. Turns out that Challah is a traditional Jewish bread & is used in both Sabbath and Holiday worship. It is also very beautiful & the symbolism in the braids & various other traditional shapes is also beautiful. So that's what I decided to do.

I took my recipe from here - Grandma Rosie's Fabulous Challah Recipe - and made it just like the lady said to do, no changes.

Monkey helped make the bread. (Warning: I apparently wasn't at my steadiest when I made this video... it's a bit jiggly.)

Then he helped me clean up the mess.

I didn't quite understand the directions for braiding the Challah, so I did a search and found a couple of U-Tube videos to help with that part. First, I did a 6 strand braid working with this video's directions:

Hmmm... looks like I'm going to have to head back to U-Tube and look for better video links... There. That's better.

Then I started a 5 strand braid for the second lump. I was a bit surprised at how hard it was to make strings out of the bread dough, but I eventually got it to work and this second one was easier, perhaps because I didn't need as many strings.

Errrr.... this video's having problems too...
OK, now they're both working. Not sure what that was all about.

We had some family stuff that I had to pay attention to, so I just did a simple 3 strand braid for the last lump of dough. Then I put them in the oven to rise. It's terribly cold, so I took the suggestion in the recipe to warm up the oven and have the bread rise in there. Worked like a charm, although the 1st rise took longer than it was supposed to and it was still only barely double when I started shaping the dough. The second rise also took longer than the recipe, but this time it was because I forgot to keep track of time and left them for almost an hour longer. They looked fine, so I declared the 5-strand braid to be my favorite (although the 3 strand came out surprisingly nice in its simplicity; the 6 I think perhaps needs longer strings than what I used to show its pattern a bit better), brushed them with egg, and popped them in the oven. At 20 minutes they were smelling great, but the recipe said that they were supposed to take 30 minutes & you may have to tent them with tinfoil to prevent too much browning, so that's what I did and I also rotated things around in my oven to get more even cooking. I've decided recently that the back (upper?) left is hotter than other areas.

Of course, the real reason for doing all this was to eat it!


Natalie said...

I baked bread today too, but just the regular whole wheat bread, nothing complex. Good job!

napaboaniya said...

Ur boy looks so cute trying to scope the bread with his toy spoon :P

Ritsumei said...

Natalie - I do the regular whole wheat from time to time as well, although I tend to do that with a nice slashed round loaf. I used to do it more before the bread maker died.

Napaboaniya - thanks so much! We definitely agree that he's a fabulous cutie!

Sandy Carlson said...

There's nothing quite like the heat of a warm oven to bring magic to a cold winter day!

Larawannabe said...

i've never tried baking a bread, but yours sure do looked warm and yummy.

my entry is up, too. have a great week ahead :)

Ritsumei said...

Sandy - AMEN!

Lara - it's not hard. Look up a basic recipe & have a bash at it. Kneading the bread is such a physical, therapeutic thing!

Eva said...

Wow, three different braids, well done! I've only mastered the three-strand-braid so far. Thanks for participating!

Ritsumei said...

I did the fancy braiding in my computer room, actually. Got the strands ready on a cookie sheet and then brought the whole kit into my computer room & watched the videos as I did it. If I was going to do it again I'd probably have to do the same thing the next several times until I had the patterns down.

dorine said...

Yummy looking!

zorra said...

Great job! I'm not able to braid the 6-strang version, I have already problems with 4. ;-)

Ritsumei said...

I had planned to try the 4 strand braid, but I found out about some family stuff that required my attention, so I just finished up quick with a 3 strand braid. I'll have to try the 4 another time. The recipe was definitely good enough to try again at some point. Although I might only make a 1/2 batch: it made so much that I gave away the 6 strand loaf because I wasn't going to get it eaten before it got old. The folks I gave it to were happy to have it; they said not one crumb went to waste!

Lien said...

Beautiful braids! I'll have to practise more to make one with 4 or 5 strangs, I can't seem to master it!


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