I still haven’t told you about my recent trip to California. Truth be told, I haven’t even uploaded my photos.
Here’s the sneak peek: I saw friends, we ate. A lot. Far more is advisable for one person. You’ll hear more about it shortly. And, by shortly, I mean another month from now.
In the meantime, I’m in planning mode. I’ve booked two more trips, one to Boston and another to Edinburgh and London. Both motivated by weddings and both homecomings of some sort. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’ll get to those details soon enough as well.
I’m taking my time herebear with me as the first time I didn’t: carnage.
When I was planning the menu for my Jewish Deli Brunch, challah seemed a necessity. And, the recipe I had was simple enough, downright easy because I was using a blender to combine the dough. Nothing I hadn’t done before. Except that I wasn’t paying attention and stuck my hand directly into the blender. I’m putting that in bold to stress just how stupid this was.
What followed wasn’t pretty. Because of the location, the cut wouldn’t stop bleeding. And, as if that wasn’t enough, there was blood was everywhere. And, yet, I still thought that the bread may be salvageable. I was filled with good ideas that morning. And, losing time to pull off what was starting to seem like an impossible task, particularly since I had to meet my sisterwe were seeing The Lady from Dubuque. If you know anything about this play, then you’ll know that this is exactly the kind of show you want to avoid when you’re weepy from having nearly severed your finger tip because of sheer stupidity.
I arrived at the theater after trekking through several avenues in the rainwhy is it on days like that, it’s always raining?armed with a first aid kit and, still slightly worse for the wear. Except, when I started to tell her what happened and produced my mummified finger and pack of neosporin, it was all somewhat absurd. And, so, she bought me a coffee and that was that. And, then Edward Albee was in the audience. And, well, by the time the play was over, I was ready to make another challah.
Consider yourself warned: I’m going to get a little Pollyanna-ish and tell you that there’s a lesson here. There usually is, and this one’s important. It’s about knowing what’s salvageable and taking note. The first challah wasn’t, but the day was.
There’s another lesson here, too, albeit somewhat more obvious: don’t stick your hand directly into a food processor.
Recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri
5 cups all purpose flour, plus additional set aside for dusting.
1/3 cup refined sugar
2 tsps kosher salt
1 cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more set aside
3 large eggs (2 for the challah, plus one set aside for egg wash)
1 egg yolk
Optional: sesame seeds or poppy seeds
Place water, yeast, 1 TBS of water in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside for approximately ten minutes. The mixture should foam slightly. In another bowl, combine 2 eggs, one yolk, and then oil. Set aside.
Place the flour, remainder of the sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with a dough hook to combine the ingredients. Add in the yeast mixture, and the egg and oil mixture. Mix with a dough hook on a low setting, until the dough forms a loose ball. Let it rest for five to ten minutes. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a ball. Invert it into a well oiled blow, turning it to cover all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for approximately an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Turn the rested dough out onto a floured surface, pressing with the palm of your hands to deflate. Divide the dough into 3 separate pieces, rolling each into a cylinder 12-15 inches long. Arrange the stands side by side on a parchment lined baking tray. Begin braiding the strands from the center outward. Pinch each end to seal the stands together, turning the pinched ends under the loaf.
Cover with oiled plastic warp and set aside to rise for at least an hour, until it is doubled in size. When the loaf has almost doubled in side, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, setting the rack at the middle level. Make egg wash, by beating the remaining egg.
Brush the egg wash on the top and sides of the challah. If you are using sesame or poppy seeds, sprinkle them on top of the uncooked challah.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top of the loaf is golden brown and the internal temperature of the challah is 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer to a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Makes one loaf