Friday, September 5, 2008

Adventures with Challah Dough

I keep seeing recipes and references to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François as I wander through the foodie blogosphere. I'd put it on my mental "must read" list and finally remembered to pick it up on my latest visit to the library.

I decided to make the challah recipe found on page 180. As written, the recipe makes four loaves (which is what I did), but you can halve or double as needed. The dough was a cinch to make. I whipped it up in just a few minutes on a Thursday night, letting it go through the first rise as I went about my business. Right before heading to bed, I popped the container in the fridge, ready for shaping and baking at my next whim.

For my first of four recipes, I decided to make cinnamon rolls, assembled Friday night, ready to bake for Saturday morning breakfast. I pulled them out of the fridge when I got up to make my first cup of coffee. Once they came out of the oven—and infused the whole house with cinnamony-goodness—I made a simple glaze of powdered sugar, milk, melted butter and maple flavoring, and it added a nice flavor and bit of extra sweetness.

They were fantastic. I promise any future house guests that these will be on the menu during their stay. But you'd better hurry...they're going fast!

My second and third recipes were actual challah loaves, one traditional, the other with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.

Here are the two loaves after the second rise, ready for the egg wash.

Here they are about 15 seconds out of the oven. Gorgeous.

Not only do they look—and smell—good, they taste phenomenal. I've made challah before, but these blew my previous attempts out of the water.

I have one last portion of the dough, full of potential, waiting in the fridge. I wonder that I should do with it?

Addendum: I ended up making an apple spice challah that was absolutely delicious. I left my camera at my parent's house, so I couldn't document it, but here's the scoop.

I diced up half of a small gala apple, to which I added a copious amount of Penzey's Cake Spice (which is heavenly). I kneaded the spice coated apples into the dough, divided into thirds, braided and followed the rest of the bread process. So good.

I see myself making this challah dough on a regular basis and using it in many ways!

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