Apologies for the lack of Weekend Snapshots yesterday. J. and I had a great weekend celebrating our 6-month wedding anniversary. The weather wasn’t all that great so we didn’t end up renting scooters, but we did have brunch at Cafe Medina and it was amazing! If you’ve never been or are planning to visit Vancouver anytime soon, I highly recommend it. Now onto a recipe…
A couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at baking bread. Challah bread, to be exact. Bread is one of those things that’s always intimidated me because its success is so contingent on the chemistry behind baking. For instance, you have to ensure the water is warm enough for the yeast to activate, and you have to be careful of when to add salt, which can otherwise kill the yeast. But after reading the recipe over a few times, I decided to give it a try. I made a few adjustments based on personal preference and suggestions I read online so my challah is a little sweeter and more egg-y than the original recipe. Nonetheless, it was a great success so I plan on pumping out more of these in the near future.
Challah Bread (yields: 1 large loaf)
Adapted from Joan Callaway on allrecipes
The original recipe makes 2 loaves but I halved mine and made my adjustments accordingly. If you want to follow her recipe with my adjustments, you’ll have to double what I’ve done here. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, which really helped bring the dough together but I’m sure it can just as easily be done manually. Also note that the baking time seems a little finicky. The original recipe calls for 40 minutes which would have definitely burnt my bread. Check every 5 minutes after the 20-minute mark.
3/4 cups warm water (approx. 110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1/3 c. honey
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp. salt
4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour + extra for kneading
1/2 tbsp. sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Then add a cup of flour at a time, making sure to beat the dough after each addition. Using your hands or a dough hook, knead the dough until it’s smooth and no longer sticky, adding a little bit of flour as needed. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and let it sit for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Cover your hands with flour to prevent sticking and then press down the dough with your fingers until it deflates a bit. Then turn out onto your floured counter top and knead it for about 5 minutes or so until the flour is no longer sticky. Divide into thirds and roll until it’s about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three pieces together and begin braiding tightly. Pinch the end when you’re done braiding. Place the braid onto a greased baking tray and cover with the same damp towel and let it sit for 1 hour at room temp.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Meanwhile, beat the last egg and brush a generous amount over the braid and then sprinkle with sesame seeds (which is what I did) or poppy seeds.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the bread is a nice golden colour, but start checking at 20 minutes. Let it cool on a rack for about 1 hour before slicing… though this is merely a suggestion (I think we sliced after about 15 minutes of waiting!).
In other news, I got myself a real camera! Hopefully this means I’ll be able to take some decent photos rather than using my iPhone. :P