Well, here we are at bread number six, Challah. I made it last week, but haven’t had time to write a blog until now. This was a pretty straightforward formula, and it gave me a chance to work on my braiding abilities. And, as an added bonus, I didn’t have to make a starter…though the process still took quite a while, from beginning to end. This was another bread that I started after work at 3pm, and I finished up at around 8:30 or so.
I started out by mixing up some dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, I think) and wet ingredients (eggs, oil, water, I think). I was all ready to take some pictures of this process, but my camera battery died the instant I turned it on. So, I had to move on without photographic documentation. I mixed the wet and dry stuff together and made myself some dough. I kneaded that for about 10 minutes. Finally, my camera had enough juice in it for some pictures—here is the dough, post-kneading.
It had to sit for about 3 hours, during which time I sat on the couch and played Batman: Arkham Asylum (which I have since finished!). Once the dough was ready, I divided it into six balls, which I would use to make two small loaves. I figured one big loaf wouldn’t fit on my sorry excuse for a baking sheet (also, smaller loaves are easier to pawn off on library colleagues).
The dough sat for another 10 minutes, and then I began rolling out each ball in preparation for some braiding. The book was a nice eye-opener as far as braiding technique. While I have always started my braids at the top of the loaf, the book instructed me to start from the middle instead—something that makes perfect sense, but I never would have thought of it on my own.
In my haste to finish this step while simultaneously cooking dinner, I screwed up one of the braids (on the left) and didn’t realize until it was too late. Oh well. The loaves had to sit for another 60-75 minutes before they went into the oven. The one problem I ran into was that I braided them at the same time, but could only bake one at a time (I really need another sheet!). So, one loaf ended up sitting for an additional 20 minutes or so, which caused it to over-proof a tad, and as a result came out quite large and mishapen. Oh well—it still tasted good.
Next on the list is ciabatta, which I’m kind of scared of. It seems like a pretty difficult bread for a variety of reasons. But, I was able to borrow my mom’s baking stone, so I’ll at least have one of the materials required to make this bread. My goal is to make it on Saturday, so we’ll see!