Friday, December 17, 2010


Baking bread was something that I wanted to do but didn't have the courage to attempt. However the desire to make triumphed the fear or failure yesterday as I embarked on my first journey to bake my first loaf of bread.

I know I wanted to make some white bread, because I wanted to make some meatballs that calls for that, after browsing a number of my favorite website for recipes, challah bread from was calling out for me with incredible pictures and numerous positive comments. I have tried challah, a Jewish braided bread eaten during Sabbaths and holidays, from our local bakery and love the fragrant and taste of a freshly baked loaf.

The most daunting part of making bread for me is the rising of the bread, I am always afraid that it's going to flop right in the middle of the bread or have a bread that can kill a duck if I throw one in the lake (scene from "About a Boy"). So I told my time, read and rereading the recipe, watch and re-watch the youtube video that demonstrate how to braid bread. And here's the result.

It bread doesn't taste like what I had from the Grain Bin from 8 years ago, not as sweet, fragrant, or soft but it might be what homemade bread taste like. My bread is more dense than commercial bread, which might be due to over handling when I was trying to braid the bread? Someone will have to tell me or I need to remake it again to find out myself. Either way, with my first attempt in bread making out of the way, I can foresee my next loaf in the near future, maybe some dinner rolls from x'mas dinner?

Here's the recipe from

Best Challah (Egg Bread)

Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

4. At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.

6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.

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