Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My First Loaf of Bread

Hello everyone! I've got a nice hefty post for you today...it's all about my big baking extravaganza with bread!

It all started with a little stroll into Chapter's with about $10 in my pocket...

I immediately ascended the escalator up to my favorite section: the bargain cookbooks. Big, bold "$14.99" stickers caught my eye left right and center on gorgeous, thick "country recipes", "moroccan cooking" and "1001 cupcakes" books. Today was not a day for splurging though... I made my self comfortable in the spot of the shelf that was a little more affordable...by sitting cross legged on the surprisingly clean carpet. Usually a sucker for all things flashy, something bizarrely plain caught my eye this day - a little coiled bread recipe book (with barely any photo's even)...for $4.99. Right in my price range. That's right everyone, I actually went for substance! This little book holds more bread recipes than I can count, plain and extravagent, I was ready for a challenge.

I got home thoroughly excited and immediately whipped out the yeast and got started. I knew what I wanted to make as soon as I saw the recipe in the book - challah bread.

You see, ever since my trip to Aunties and Uncles, I've been challah crazy. It's hard to get off my mind every time I settle for a piece of plain old toast...try it, you'll see what I mean.

Challah Bread

2 packets of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of warm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup of softened butter
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg

First of all, dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water, make sure there are no gluey bit of yeast! It all dissolves eventually with a bit of patient stirring.
Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, 3 eggs, butter and 3 cups of flour.
Beat until smooth.

Keep stirring in flour, bit by bit, until the dough is easy to handle.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface when it looks like this:

Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. 
Throw the dough on the counter as hard as you can, fold it over on itself repeatedly, punch it - go crazy on that hunk!
Next, place your smooth and elastic dough in a lightly greased bowl, making sure to cover the entire dough ball in a little grease.

Wrap your bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size. I put my bowl under the hot lights above the stove, it was perfect.

Look at this dough rise! It's very exciting...

The rising process should take about 2 hours.

The dough is ready to go if an indentation remains when touched!

Punch down your risen dough once again and cut it in half, like so:

Do a little more kneading (not too much at all) and form your dough into two slightly flattened circles.
Place these in greased round 9x2 inch layer cake pans, and cover and let rise until doubled again, about 1 hour this time.
(So exciting)

When your dough is looking fluffy and pretty once again, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk one egg and brush it on the top of your loaves, followed by a bit of sprinkled sugar.
For one of my loaves I cut an "X" into it just to see how it would look...next time I'd definitely do this to both loaves! It looks so lovely and rustic when they were baked.

Pop in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown, and voila, beautiful, fresh, delicious smelling, sweet, soft challah!

Here's that pretty "X" i was talking about!

The house smelled so wonderful that I couldn't help myself from cutting into the fresh from the oven bread for a slice to smother in butter.

Let me tell you, this slice was absolute heaven. And I made that bread myself? I can't quite think of anything more satisfying that I've ever made.

So buttery and flakey and eggy...mmm....challah.

So there you have it! My first loaf (loaves) of bread, ever. This was a very successful baking adventure! I cannot wait to try more recipes from my new little book.




Katie Schneider said...

this looks sooo yummy!
if only i wasnt such a suffering college student,
i would make that bread in an instant

Tatomme P. Flanagan said...

Mare!! If I hear you talk about challah ONE mroe time....

hahha Kidding! This looks absolutely heavenly...Make french toast with it!! I had it at Aunties and Uncles..and ohh myy godd-- speachless!

cookbookcooks said...

I love fresh bread, but I am bread making scared. I always make my bread in a bread machine. I am hoping I get up enough courage to at least bake it in the oven!!
Looks delicious!

A Canadian Foodie said...

Beautiful! Great job - your bread rocks! Seriously. I make it all of the time, and just got back from Bath at The Bertinet Kitchen Cooking School.... bread baking for a day. It was truly the highlight of my trip. I am not a great bread baker by any means. I just love to do it and believe it is an essential skill. he changed how I make it. He authored Crust and Dough. Love them both. You look like you are WELL on your way - but check him out on youtube.

Fork1 said...

WOw, I am terrible when it comes to bread making or working with yeat BUT yours looks so delicious, I am going to have to give it another go!

vanillabeanbaker said...

Came over here from Fork_1. Your bread looks as delicious as her French Toast Challah. I will try this bread, thanks for the recipe. Ive made bread for years and just recently got a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Wondering if it would be better to make Challah bread by hand? Any thoughts?

Jessica said...

Hi! I came over to your blog from Fork1 and tried my hand at your challah bread today! I've never attempted bread before, but it turned out great!! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

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