Monday, February 18, 2008

Challah Reverie

I had wanted to make challah for years, but did not get around to it until recently, inspired by some of you food bloggers out there! While I am not a big fan of plain challah for eating (then again, I'm not a connoisseur), it is one of the best breads you can use for french toast or bread pudding.

As I've mentioned before, the Daring Bakers potato bread challenge inspired me to return to bread-baking after a hiatus of many years. What was I waiting for? Why not tackle a bread that has few equals in beauty, and that has such a rich history?

So, on a recent lazy afternoon, the kind where you just want to curl up with a good book and take a nap, I wandered into the kitchen with my two sous chefs, and made Sweet Vanilla Challah from Beth Hensperger's book,The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes. I'm not going to write out the recipe here because I did not adapt it in any way, but you can find a comparable recipe over at Ari's blog, one of my favorites, Baking and Books. In fact, Ari says that Hensperger's recipe was a source of inspiration for her Honey-Vanilla Challah.

This had to be the easiest, most peaceful bread baking experience I've ever had. Everything went smoothly. Shaping the dough was a breeze, and it puffed up - magically- in the oven, resulting in two gorgeous bronzed loaves of bread. We ate one (it tasted like . . . challah!), and I froze the other one to make Amaretto Bread Pudding in the near future.

This was so much fun, I'm diving into challah research, to see what other recipes and shapes I can play with. For me, the whole experience typified what I love best about baking: the peace, the challenge, and the feast for all the senses. Note: for more on making challah, and braiding instructions, see here and here.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Brilynn said...

It's gorgeous! Well done!

I'm currently working on this month's DB challenge...

February 18, 2008 12:55 PM  
Blogger Madam Chow said...

Brilynn, thank you so much for visiting! I'm tackling it later this week. I've re-read the instructions several times already, but I'm looking forward to jumping in! Good luck with your challenge, too.

February 18, 2008 1:29 PM  
OpenID chelley325 said...

This looks wonderful!

February 18, 2008 7:18 PM  
Blogger jasmine said...

lost my first reply, I think..

Pretty, pretty pretty.

Have never tasted challah, but between this post and a few others over the years, I'm thinking I'm going to go into it blind.

j

February 18, 2008 7:53 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

we LOVE challah so much I can't make it often because the entire loaf is gone in one day.....yours turned out beautifully...you should be proud!

February 19, 2008 3:53 PM  
Blogger Madam Chow said...

Thank you so much, Mary, I really appreciate the kind words. I had never made challah before, so I'm glad it turned out so nicely.

February 19, 2008 4:01 PM  
Blogger Tartelette said...

Fantastic job! I love Challah or brioche type breads for breakfast! Bravo!

February 21, 2008 4:32 PM  
Blogger breadchick said...

Challah is one of my favourite breakfast breads. And lunch breads. And dinner breads... Oh heck, one of my favourite breads. Great job on them.

February 21, 2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Looks beautful. That twist is perfect! I have made Challah a couple of times this year and keep trying to perfect the braiding...

February 24, 2008 10:38 PM  

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