Friday, September 28, 2012
Holla For Challah!
My children just finished a unit on the Roman Occupation of Israel thru the fall of the Roman Empire. I love our curricula because it has some "out of the box" thinking of how things can coincide with learning. My favorite is the Cooking Lesson at the end of each unit. Sometimes scary, usually fun, always educational. And most certainly, when done correctly, they are DELICIOUS!!!!
I confess, baking bread fills me with terror. There are so many things that can go wrong. The wrong flour. Dead yeast. Wrong temperature or humidity outside. Granted, I'm actually a fairly good baker, but I'm still afraid of bread.
With fear and trepidation, I approached the end of the unit and saw the Cooking Lesson looming in the distance. I shopped for the ingredients I needed (the only thing I had to source elsewhere was the Sesame Seeds - although Aldi does sell them during the Chinese New Year season). Our Aldi has recently added yeast to it's shelves. Long awaited for me, I'm glad it's there, and it's so inexpensive! It's only .79 for 3 packages! WHOOOO HOOOO!!!!
With all three kids eager to make bread today, we dove in, head first. Came out covered in flour, but it was fun (once we stopped arguing over who's turn it was to do what step!). I admit that the 8 minute need for kneading made be very, very thankful for my Kitchen Aide Mixer with Dough Hook attachment! We shaped it, waited again for the 2nd rise, and it just came out of the oven 20 minutes ago. Of course, we could not WAIT for it to cool. Half the loaf was gone before I could blink.
I think tomorrow we'll have french toast for breakfast. I bet that'd be awesome with Challah!
1 3/4 Cups Grandma's Best All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Sebree Salt
1/2 Cup Friendly Farms Butter, softened
4 Golden Hen Eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp cold water
3 Tbs Baker's Corner Granulate Sugar
1 package Baker's Corner Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water (follow temperature guidelines on package)
up to 5 cups more flour
1/2 tsp Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds* (need to buy somewhere other than Aldi)
Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. Slowly add the warm water to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly (I put the ingredients in the Kitchen Aide Bowl and used the paddle attachment for these steps). Beat for two minutes with a mixer at medium speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl. Take one egg and separate the yolk and white. Set yolk aside for later use. Place egg white and three whole eggs to batter. Beat on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scraping bowl as needed. Slowly, cup by cup, add flour until a soft dough forms. Lightly flour your kneading surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic (I put my dough hook on my machine at this point and let IT knead the dough for 8 minutes at low speed). Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover and set in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn dough out on lighly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Cut one portion into 2 parts - 1 part being about 1/3 the loaf, the other part being about 2/3rds of the loaf. Using one of the larger portions, divide again into 3 parts and roll into 12" ropes. Braid together being sure to seal the ends (braid tightly!!! A baker friend of mine recommended starting in the center and braiding outward on either side). Cut the smaller portion of dough into 3 equal parts and roll into 10" ropes. Braid, seal. Set on top of the other braid. Place loaf on a greased baking sheet. Repeat these steps with 2nd half of dough. You will end up with two braided loaves. Cover. Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush risen loaves with reserved egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp cold water. Sprinkle on Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Good luck waiting for it to cool to slice!