Sunday, May 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge May 2012- Challah Back Y'all


This month's DB Challenge was something I had never attempted before. It turned out to be  a most welcome one, bread baking at it's finest.


May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.


From the original instructions, Ruth gave us the option of 3 recipes. I chose "Ruth's Go-To Whole Wheat Challah", which included the hearty and wholesome ingredients of wheat flour and oats. 


Challah requires braiding of the dough. Ruth generously provided us with plenty of video tutorials on how to achieve a perfectly weaved dough. 


For me, the braiding looked like it would be the most difficult part of the challenge. Of the several braid options, I chose the 4 strand braid. Fortunately, with the aid of the visuals, in conjunction with  repeated practice on my daughter, A's hair, I was able to be conquer the task of the twist.

The dough was supple and elastic, yet robust and resilient. At one point, "A" was holding the base of my very sturdy electric mixer once the dough spiralled into a ball, and, she, along with my heavy duty machine jounced away in my kitchen- bread making and merrymaking all in one.

There's a substantial amount of dough doubling expected at regular intervals, and between steps, calling for Herculean amounts of patience. On the other had, challah is uncomplicated and fairly easy to make. According to Ruth, "challah takes about 4-6 hours from start to finish. This includes making the dough, at least two risings, baking and cooling." 


A good 15 minutes after settling the loaves into the heated oven, your home will be seized with the delightful scent of a fine bakery, a most invitingly bready embrace.


All in all, it was a very satisfying experience, bringing with it a sense of accomplishment for even the most bread challenged among us. 


I enjoyed making challah and most probably will be trying my hand at sourdough.

Thank you Ruth for this wonderful challenge. The recipes along with her precise tutelage helped in bringing about a blissful bread making adventure .

Whole Wheat Challah
(source: The Daring Bakers' Challah challenge /Ruth's Go-To Whole Wheat Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (4½ teaspoons)  dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (100°F)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats (old fashioned work just fine)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flour for kneading 
  • 1 egg beaten plus 1 tsp water to glaze loaves
Directions:
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
  • With paddle attachment beat eggs, sugar, butter, salt, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. If by hand, combine eggs and butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours, salt and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
  • Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour (for kneading) as/if needed. Alternately, if kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
  • Form dough into a round, compact ball. Place in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in warm area (maybe in the oven with the light on) until doubled, about 2 hours.
  • Once dough has doubled, punch down and knead for an two minutes. Cover again with towel, allow to rise again for a minimum of 30 minutes up to an hour.
  • Punch the dough down again. Divide dough in two.
  • Divide each into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into 4 long strands (likewise 3 and 6 if you are doing the 3 strand, 6 strand). 
  • Weave the strands into a braided loaf.
  • Repeat for the other half.
  • Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the one egg and water to glaze loaf.
  • Brush loaves with this egg wash. 
  • Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

4 strands for the 4 strand braid

Fasten the long dough threads and begin from the top

Starting from the right: over, under, over

Press together and tuck both ends underneath. 

Beautiful loaf with gorgeous sheen. One of the best loaves of bread I've ever made without using a bread maker.


The texture was excellent, specks of the wheat grains and oats showing through 
Not intentional that this came alongside my doughnuts post. The two yeast recipes, coupled together, should have you experienced in the joys and trials of rising and proofing.
*Update* I will also be submitting this post to YeastSpotting, an online showcase of goodies made from yeast.
******
“You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:13-16

36 comments:

  1. Your challah looks beautiful. All that practice on your daughter's hair certainly paid off!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Suz, yes, it did- now, she only wants to wear a 4 braid do :))

      Delete
  2. Okay, first of all, your daughter is so patient to let you practice braiding on her! As a result, your braided loaves look gorgeous. And I am so with you about the smell of bread baking in the house. YUM! Heaven :) Wonderful work on the challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Shelley! Well, not so much patience on her part than it was the urgency to get a new hairstyle out the whole episode. Admittedly the smell was super good and I want to make more bread :)

      Delete
  3. The bread looks amazing and love the glaze and texture of your bread. I tried 3 different kinds of braid this time...loved making the bread thoroughly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jayanthi. Wow- all 3 braids, kudos to you! Yes, this challenge was really a nice one,I making bread as well as eating it :)

      Delete
  4. Well done on the challah and for the step photos. I couldn't help but to add some poppy seeds to my challah and that was nice too - added a little crunch. Loved this challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ! I had some sesame seeds on hand, but I wanted to taste the original recipe, as is. I saw many mention the of poppy seed topping , so next time seeds are a yes!

      Delete
  5. You did a beautiful Job Tisa and I love your pictures, the color of the bread is so inviting!
    I loved the part about practicing on your daughter's hair, I am glad I am not the only one lol
    I look forward to trying this wholewheat bread, it looks so hearty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sawsan! Yeah I read the hair braiding part in yours too :) The pics were taken in the late afternoon right after the baking( not ideal i know), so the light affected the bread's color I think, though whole wheat does have a golden hue to it. It was hearty and delish :)

      Delete
  6. Your braiding is exceptional my friend, I am slavering all over looking at it!
    My mum should try this, she is always braiding my hair ;)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Uru!. Lovely to have a mum like that- now, that she's had ample practice on her test subject, she will be a master at the bread braid :-)

      Delete
  7. That looks so beautiful and perfect. You worked hard on your daughter's hair ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Reshmi,yes, lots of hair braiding- was fun and she won't let me stop ;-)

      Delete
  8. your bread is baked perfectly. nice one

    ReplyDelete
  9. Such GORGEOUS bread! I love homemade bread and would love a few pieces - warmed with butter - to enjoy. MMM!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was really good with butter- thank you for your lovely comments! And congratulations on having One Lovely Blog!

      Delete
  10. Yum! That looks delicious. The whole wheat challah was the only recipe I didn't try. Yours looks so tempting, I'm going to have to give it a go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! The whiter loaves looked nice and pretty, but I love whole wheat and had to try it. It is delicious, you won't be disappointed.

      Delete
  11. Saw this bread at other Daring Bakers participants' blog too. Yours is very beautifully made. Very nice!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love the step by step braiding photos! Your loaves look delicious :o)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for baking with me this month! Your daughter's hair was a fabulous helper, and the braids turned out just lovely! I am so glad that you enjoyed both the bread and the process!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Ruth! If you think the braids turned out ok, then that's an uber compliment. You gave us such a wonderful challenge, awesome recipes and detailed instructions, how could anyone go wrong? Thank you so much, whole wheat challah is officially one of my favorite breads :)

      Delete
  14. Beautiful braiding! And beautiful photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nish for you gracious comments, the braiding was challenging and the pics always are :)

      Delete
  15. Wow. That looks delicious and so professional

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you- it was quite delicious :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is AWESOME..( i actually have my mouth saying that word again and again as i write this).. had seen another 2-3 attempts of this challenge and i am impressed...!!!!:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Renu, this is one of the yummiest bread recipes I've made from scratch- I actually wanted to make it again, right after we finished this batch, just that good. Thanks to DK.

      Delete

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!