Sunday, May 27, 2012

Braided Bread

For some reason, when I saw this month's Daring Baker's challenge, I was a bit nervous. I think that the thought of braiding the bread was the concern.  In the end, it ended up being simple...and fun!  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.

 D is loving these challenges recently since we've had so much bread.  This month he has been on an away rotation, she we haven't gotten to see much of each other; but as I mentioned in my last post, I was able to work my schedule so that I got to go visit him and his family.  I baked the challah a few days before I went and took a loaf with me.

  By the time I left, there was just a very little left.  I think everyone liked it.  The texture of the challah reminded me of a croissant on the outside - very flaky - but was nice and soft of the inside.

 One morning, I made French Toast for our breakfast.  This is the perfect bread for French toast as the dry outside just soaks up the custard.  Mmmm...I highly recommend trying it if you have any challah...or decide to make some.  Thanks for a great challenge.

Ruth's "Go-To" Whole Wheat Challah
(adapted from D’s Whole Wheat Challah)

2 (.25 oz.) packages (4½ teaspoons) (22½ ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) dry yeast
1 cup warm water
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze

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 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours 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 as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.

 Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.

 Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)  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.


shelley c. said...

Your loaf came out beautifully, and that French toast looks scrumptious! Beautiful work on the challenge.

zazacook said...

Your challah looks so perfect and your french toast so delicious! Yummy!:)

Ruth Ellis said...

What a great idea, using it to make French toast - yum!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you- this bread makes great french toast (also bread pudding, sweet or savory). great job!Best, Sandie