The first time I made challah bread was a snowy day at the beginning of a staycation week. I found a recipe that seemed manageable, gathered together my ingredients and tuned to a jazz station on my Apple Music. I was ready, with a reasonable degree of seriousness, to take on the challenge. Baking intimidates me and other than my brownies (it’s a secret, but I’ll tell you in person if you ask) and No-Knead Bread, it’s most definitely not my strength. But, I’m an optimist and I’m curious about bread and yeast, so I began.
The recipe was straightforward and all seemingly went well. My kitchen is on the cold side of my house and I don’t know that the yeast slurry ever truly thrived, but the ingredients went together nicely and I left the dough to rise while I went for a ski.
About 3 hours later I checked the covered-in-plastic dough and saw some expansion, but not much. I handled the dough a bit and divided it into portions which I hoped to braid together prettily. That part went really well. Once the dough was shaped, it got covered and I placed it in the fridge for overnight. “Overnight” is such a non descriptive word really. This particular night, it meant taking the dough out and placing it on the counter at about 4:00 a.m. I miss sleep, but there’s always something with which to occupy one’s time.
About 3 hours later, I brushed the dough with the recommended beaten egg with a pinch of salt and popped the loaves into a preheated oven. They baked for about 34 minutes and I moved them around the oven a total of three times during the process. I think they’re beautiful, but the taste is kind of bland. I’m going to try them again with freshly purchased yeast, another egg and a touch of honey. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Do you bake bread? Hints? Recipes to share with the baking challenged?
5 thoughts on “The first time – challah bread”
Happy to share my (relatively) fail-proof recipe with you. Pm me if interested.
Yes, please! I’d love that.
I don’t think the type of yeast will impact the flavor a ton here. Most supermarkets have two kinds of yeast. Active Dry Yeast and Instant Dry yeast. If you used a packet of Active Dry Yeast you actually put in less yeast than a packet of Instant Yeast. The equivalent of 7 grams of instant yest would be about 9 grams of Active yeast or about 22 grams of fresh yeast. It’s kind of like a the weight of tablespoon of kosher salt is different than a the weight of a tablespoon of table salt. Except here it has to do with how the yeast is preserved and how many live yeast cells are present. Anyhow, the very long winded point I’m trying to make is that if you switch to fresh yeast, you are going to want more yeast than the packet of instant yeast in the recipe. Hopefully this made some sense. It’s Tuesday but it’s really Monday because of the holiday. Here’s a good table with yeast equivalents between the different kinds.
and i forgot to say…your bread looks good! I meant to open with that…long day.
You rock, John. My yeast came in a brick sort of and I’ve had it in the fridge for a few years, I think. I wondered if maybe it died or something. I’m going to try again! It was pretty, though. That counts for something.