Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Challah back girl

I am honored that Krista has allowed me to infiltrate her lovely food blog with a few of my loves and ideas
from the kitchen. So, with that I will share with you my Thanksgiving project.
I speak in purple, really, I do.


Recipe makes 2 braided loavesThis recipe is from my soul sister. The lovely, one and only Julia Child. So imagine this narration in her sweet little voice and accent.

2 Tablespoons unsalted (or salted, it won't hurt) Melted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 Cup tepid water (80-90 degrees F)
1/3 Cup sugar
1 stick unsalted (or salted, I promise it won't hurt) butter, at room temperature
1 Cup whole milk (or whatever is in your fridge, though I would advise against breast milk)
1 Tablespoon mild honey
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
6 1/2 Cups high gluten flour, bread flour or all purpose unbleached flour

Mixing the dough-
Wisk the yeast into the water. Add a pinch of the sugar and let rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy, about 5 minutes. Cut the butter into small pieces and toss into
a small saucepan with the milk; heat until the milk is very warm to the touch and the butter has melted.

Ok, I was horribly embarrassed as to how dirty my stove was in the first picture, so I had to clean i
t in the midst of this. But see how much prettier it is? Put the mixture
into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining sugar, the honey, and salt. If necessary, let the mixture cool so that it is no warmer than 110 degrees F. Not like this, it's too hot and will kill your yeast. And I don't want you to be a yeast murderer.

Add the creamy yeast to the milk mixture, along with the eggs, and stir with the wooden spoon to mix. Stirring vigorously, add the flour, 1/2 c. at a time, stopping when you have a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and is difficult to stir.
[Ok, here's a hint. One that I always tell myself I don't knead (haha get it? Knead? ok ok, fine). Measure out the flour into a separate bowl, bag, feeding trough. Anything. Because if you a like me, you will be counting a long and when you get to 4 1/2c. you will lose track and start thinking about how dirty the bathroom is or how quiet your 10 1/2 month old is being which assuredly means trouble. SO just do it. Measure it out and life will be good. Because in this instance, I didn't and I'm pretty sure I added an extra cup of flour, but no worries it was still delicious and wonderful.]

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the counter, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Or, if you a lazy like me and have a beautiful Kitchenaid mixer, use it, but be prepared with your dough hook, you'll knead (haha) it quickly. And here is what dear Julia has to say about that.
You can make this dough in a heavy duty mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast , the milk mixture, and the eggs are combined, add about 5 cups of the flour, and beat on low speed for 3 minutes, or until the dough starts to come together. Beating on medium-low, add as much additional flour as needed to make a soft dough that will clean the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium low for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth, soft and elastic.

First and Second Rises
Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl. Brush the top with a little melted butter, cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap , and top with a kitchen towel.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 to 1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
When the dough is full risen, deflate it, cover as before, and let rise until it doubles in bulk again, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Shaping and final rise
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half and keep 1 piece of dough covered while you work with the other. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 16 inches long; it should be thick in the center and tapered the ends. Align the ropes vertically, side by side, and start braiding from the center down. [But if you can't follow directions, like me, just braid it like a pretty little girls' hair] When you've reached the end, turn the loaf around so that the braided half is on top; braid the lower half. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck the ends under the loaf. Transfer the loaf to a prepared baking sheet and gently plump it to get it back into shape; cover with a towel. Braid the second loaf, put it on a baking sheet, and cover. Let the loaves rise at room temperature for 40 minutes, or until soft, puffy and almost doubled.

The glaze and topping
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (though I don't find this terribly necessary, and I skipped it in this instance)
1 Tablespoon cold water or heavy cream
Sesame, poppy and/or caraway seeds (optional)
Coarse salt

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 375 degrees F. Whisk the egg, yolk (if using), and water together in a small bowl until broken up, then push the glaze through a sieve (or skip that, because you are lazy, like me). Brush the tops and the sides of the challahs with glaze; let the glaze set for 5 minutes, and brush again. Reserve the leftover glaze for brushing the loaves during baking. If you're topping the loaves, dust them with seeds; sprinkle coarse salt over the loaves, topped or not.

Baking the bread
Bake for 20 minutes. The loaves will expand and expose some of the inner dough. Brush the newly exposed dough with the reserved glaze and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer,[bunintheoven] or until the loaves are golden and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. If they start to brown too quickly, cover them with a piece of foil, shiny side up. Let cool before slicing.
While they are still hot I like to spread melted butter over the top.

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