I ran a 5k yesterday. It was absolutely perfect: 60-ish degrees (although my “ish” could vary quite a bit), a lovely course, lots of people cheering.
I didn’t place, I didn’t PR (personal record) either. But, I ran hard and I had such an amazing time running through my hometown’s downtown (say that 10 times fast).
I think I’ve forgotten how pretty and lush Tennessee can be. I was in awe of the flowers and trees. Since I’ve been home I feel like one of those awkward tourists who want to take pictures of every novel thing they see. Perhaps that’s what living in the desert for two years does to a person.
The novelty and beauty of home kind of reminds me of homemade bread. I feel that I often forget how delicious it is. For convenience, I purchase artisan breads (like ciabatta, challah, focaccia) from the grocery store. But when I make it at home, I can taste the difference (maybe it’s all of the extra blood, sweat, and tears that I carefully knead in…)
Fortunately for me and my homemade bread-loving appetite, this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was Challah Bread. Challah is an delicious lightly sweetened egg bread. It is a very important part of Jewish traditions like the Sabbath and other holidays. I won’t go into the history here, but the background and process of making the bread is very interesting, especially for a woman in a Jewish household.
The challenge offered up three different challah recipe. I wasn’t feeling too adventurous so I just stuck to baking one, the Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah.
It was easy to make and very delicious. The texture was a bit more dense than challah made with white flour, but it didn’t feel heavy. The recipe was not hard to follow, but like any yeast bread, it takes time and patience. There are three rises for this challah which help the flavor of the yeast to really develop and shine through.
I definitely would want to make this recipe again or try one of the others that were posted for the challenge.
Feeling Yeasty and wanting more?
Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah
- 2 (.25 oz.) packages (4. teaspoons) (22. ml) (15 gm) (. oz) dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
- . cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3. oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
- . cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature (I used butter)
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (. oz) salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
- 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
- . cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1. oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
- Additional flour for kneading (. to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2. to 5 oz)
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
- Optional Seasonings for top of challah (I made my challahs with sesame, “everything” seasoning, and rosemary and salt)
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two (I divided mine into three small loaves).
7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired). The leftmost loaf is everything seasoning with dried garlic, dried onion, caraway, salt, and sesame. The middle is rosemary and salt, and the last loaf is sesame.
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.