Sunday, 24 May 2009

More late night baking & something vaguely challah-like.

I can't believe I have never baked a loaf of bread.
Not once.

Sibling no.2 has a ballet exam tomorrow and will be dancing all day so I thought I would make her something sustaining for breakfast tomorrow. Hence the fact that I am awake at 1:30am, glazing a loaf with egg before it goes in the oven. I am attempting to make challah - it's always seemed so tempting, but one of those things that I never really thought to make at home. After much researching, I decided all the recipes online differed too much from each other. Not knowing which one to pick, I cobbled together my own:

5 cups of plain flour, plus extra for kneading
1 & 1/4 cup lukewarm water
5g of dried yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
poppy seeds

How to do it:
Preheat oven to 350°F/gas 4
1. Combine the yeast, sugar, honey and a 1/4 cup of water and leave for a few minutes until frothy.
2. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and poppy seeds.
3. Into the flour add the oil, yeast mixture, cup of water and 3/4 of the egg.
4. Combine and knead on a floured surface, adding flour gradually until the dough is smooth and elastic.
5. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a teatowel and leave for an hour or until doubled in size.
6. Split dough into three equal parts, and roll these parts into long snakes.
7. Lay the three parts alongside each other and press their ends together. Braid the dough and press the other ends together.
8. Place on a floured baking sheet, cover again with the teatowel and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
9. Using the remaining egg, glaze and scatter more poppy seeds on top if you want.
10. Bake until golden brown.

Makes one very large loaf.

You can see from the rather poor quality photo (sorry about that - the good camera is off to England along with half the family), I wasn't too great with the braiding. I am far too impatient. It didn't really matter in the end though - what a handsome loaf! And, wow, did it grow - as you can see, it rivals a cast-iron Le Creuset pot in size. I'm very pleased with my first attempt at bread.

Right, I'm going to sleep!

P.S. I have no idea how traditional my recipe is. All the recipes I came across stipulated using sesame/poppy seeds on the top of the loaf, whereas I put them through the dough too (I am a poppy seed fiend). I am certainly no expert, and haven't even eaten challah before. So this is most likely not the real deal. You have been warned!

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