While I still have The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking checked out from the library, I wanted to give a couple more recipes a try. After my semi-success with some rolls, I tried my hand at challah. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread eaten on the Sabbath. Mainly, I chose it because I had all the ingredients on hand, including the all-purpose flour. I’m going to get some bread flour, but I don’t have any yet. Challah required a surprising quantity of eggs and egg yolks, although the recipe did make four loaves of bread.
I’m not going to include the entire recipe here because it’s long. The actual baking of the bread didn’t take as much work as the length of the recipe indicates. The dough did need to be left alone for two periods of 45 minutes, which made it a little tough for me to run the errands I had planned.
Fancy loaves of challah are made into braids with six strands, but I stuck with three to be sure I could weave them. Some of my loaves were more even than other loaves. Somehow, they all looked better after baking than before. Unless I was just so excited to eat them that I didn’t pay as much attention to their straightness.
How did the bread turn out? Pretty much just as it should. I shared a couple loaves with friends, and they weren’t even sure it was homemade. That was a little disappointing. Whatever qualities that homemade bread has to mark it as homemade, this bread did not have. It had a nice crispy crust and a soft interior, nice-sized air pockets, and decent flavor. It really tasted like it came from a bakery. This wasn’t like the bread my grandma used to make, although my grandma never made challah.
I was worried the braids would take forever, since I needed to roll out a bunch of logs to braid together. It didn’t take too long, though. The dough was an easy consistency to handle, and a few YouTube videos on how to shape bread were helpful.
I’d be willing to make this recipe again, but I probably won’t. Once I get a few specialized ingredients, I think I’ll try my hand at pretzels and some more regular loaves. I’m shooting to match that picture on the front of the book.