Saturday, December 02, 2006

Traditional Challah


Saturday, December 2, 2006
Number 82! I've done it--with nearly a month to spare! (And, by the way, here is my horoscope for today: You subscribe to the idea of trying everything, or most things, once. That's what makes today such an adventure.).
But it's very odd because I feel almost like crying. There were many days, especially in July, when I really didn't want to turn on the oven, and there were weekends when I felt like I was a slave to my bread-rising schedule. But somehow I feel more melancholy than triumphant.
What am I going to do with my weekends now? What will duplicate the satisfaction of crossing another bread off my list? But before I get too weepy, I should talk about the challah.
This bread was one of the most delicious ones that I've made. Alas, it was not picture perfect, as you will see from the pictures. Jim tried his best to disguise the fact that the top of the bread, rather than being shiny-glazed and full of seeds, was stretchy looking whitish bread dough. I'm not sure if I braided too tightly (or not tightly enough), or if the dough didn't have quite enough flour, or if I didn't let it rise enough after it was shaped so that there was too much oven spring. (A year ago I didn't know what oven spring was).
Anyway, the mixing went swimmingly, the rising took place nicely on schedule, so that I could go to a one-year-old friend's birthday party (Happy birthday, Anton!) between risings, and the braiding, following the directions on pp. 72-74, looked quite good. So I was not prepared for the shock when I opened the oven door and found that the braiding was somehow on the sides of the loaf and the top was just plain old bread dough. I thought about re-glazing it, but decided to just wait and see what happened. When it came out of the oven, I told Jim he had a challenge ahead of him. He took a look and said, "whoa! What happened here?" Note to Jim: these are not words of encouragement. I told him to take disguising pictures, but he failed to work miracles.
Here is a full-on picture of the challah from hell (chell?):


A slightly disguised photo of the same.
But all was forgiven when I sliced the bread and ate it. I had wondered whether it would lack the nice buttery flavor of the typical white bread, or whether the five eggs would make it tough. But the bread was very rich and it tasted great with just a little butter. Jam or honey would have been nice options, but I didn't want to disguise that fresh-from-the oven taste. Tomorrow I'll have it for breakfast, and will have two big decisions to make: jam or honey? toasted or not?
But now I must take a moment to wax nostalgic. What an amazing year this has been! Not only have I had wonderful bread every week, but I've also met some extraordinary people through this blog. I appreciate all the people who popped in now and then to watch my progress and to leave warm, funny, encouraging, and helpful comments. And, of course, I especially thank Rose Levy Beranbaum, who knows everything about bread, and quite a lot about life, and who has never once taken me to task for messing up one of her beautiful breads.
But I don't need to get too sentimental because I'm not leaving the blogosphere even though my project is over. Stay tuned for: lists of favorite breads, new baking adventures, a blow-by-blow description of a kitchen remodeling job, and, eventually, pictures of breads baked in a new Wolf oven. (What other kind of oven could a Wolf kitchen have?)

23 comments:

Paddyscake said...

Congratulations. This was quite an accomplishment! I look forward to your continued adventures. Happy Holidays!

Nabeela said...

now that is what I call a job VERY well done.....congratulations! I'm a little sad too the journey through the bread book is over...but I'm looking forward to your other baking adventures!

yiuma said...

congratulation ! May be U can now try to review and rate your favourite in different aspects.

kneadtobake said...

Marie,
You have accomplished so much more than just baking Roses's breads, you made a committment that I am sure most of us would have had trouble keeping.
It is good news that you will keep all your new bread baking friends informed about your new kitchen, I wish you continued success in your next project, you really are a remarkable woman.
Of course, now all your friends and family will be expecting lots of homemade bread after your kitchen is finished.
Congratulations on a great job!

kneadtobake said...

I forgot to mention that since you finished your project ahead of schedule, you will now have time to bake Christmas cookies from Rose's cookie book. Be careful, they are addictive.

Chubbypanda said...

It's the end of an era...

... and the beginning of a new one?

- Chubbypanda

Anonymous said...

Marie,
The bread pictures show a lovely texture and you said it tasted better than all the other breads... that is a successful bread. Many congratulations completing your project and many thank yous for sharing it with me. You have made me laugh so many times and I love your descriptions. (which have become very sophisticated baker speak.)
Before your blog I had never read a strangers diary. (I only started reading Rose's in October, but I feel like I know her as she is my favourite cake lady writer for years now; so she doesn't count as a stranger)
I bought diaries for my daughter and myself over 2 years ago and we exchange them to read each others at birthdays and New Year. It's been difficult to write what I want to in the diary. I wanted it to be something that my daughter can see and understand a different side of her mother. Baking, cooking is a big part of what I enjoy doing. I love the whole social aspect and the joy of eating and giving food that others can enjoy. So I guess what I am saying in a round about way is that your blog showed me the ideal way I can document my baking/cooking and sharing of food with friends and family. I plan to keep a diary for my daughter that has pictures and my thoughts. It may sound silly but it never occurred to me before to do it this way. I don't know if I am brave
enough to go public with the diary though.
I am going to do many of the recipes from the BB...when it comes at Christmas. My husband has ordered the KitchenAid but I will wait till Christmas to open it. (I actually like to be surprised at Christmas, present-wise, but my husband is an anxious giver of presents and wants guidance. So therefore, I have few surprises. For our wedding anniversary a few years back he bought a rubbish bin for me. I had been looking for a new rubbish bin but didn't know it would document our 20 years of marriage! That was a surprise!)
I look forward to reading about the new kitchen. Would like to hear if the new oven with bread proofing mode is good or not.
Cheers for now, Melinda

evil cake lady said...

BBC, like many others, I have admired your commitment to bake all of the breads in the BB--that is not a small accomplishment! I think I can safely say this is a bittersweet moment for all of us. At least you are going to keep up with the blogging--I look forward to reading about all your upcoming kitchen remodels and bread adventures!!

Doughadear said...

Marie,
The challah is a lovely bread to end with. It is one of my favourite breads to bake because it is so delicious and exceptional as toast with jam for breakfast. I discovered your blog in October while looking something up in Rose’s web page and that night I read through all your bread adventures to date. I just sat and read thoroughly enjoying myself with your funny stories. Up to then I had never looked at a blog let alone responded to one and to find this blog has been just great. I’ve been checking in ever since wondering which bread would be next. I cannot imagine not having you around in cyberbake so I am glad you will continue to post. I am looking forward to the progress of your kitchen renovation and future baking. Congratulations on the completion of your project. Well done!!!
Oriana

Brioche For The Girl said...

I have truly enjoyed reading about your bread baking adventures. I am glad to know this is not the end of your postings!

Shana B.

Chai18 said...

congrats!! tip for challah use it for french toast

breadbasketcase said...

Thank you all (or y'all, as I would feel compelled to say if I were using White Lily flour).
I put the challah in the freezer, which it takes to very nicely. Thanks for the hint about French toast--that will come next weekend, when, for the first time, I'll try baking a non-Rose bread. Yikes--it will be weird to look at a recipe that's only about ten lines long and doesn't tell you what shelf of the oven to use. I don't know if I'll be able to handle that much responsibility.

spancrazi said...

Congrats!

I've been reading and enjoying your blog, and spurred on by some of your descriptions of breads that I would not normally have baked, I decided to bake a challah last weekend. Well, I looked and looked for your blog on this bread, for tips, but it, as I realize now, you hadn't baked it yet!

Anyway, your Challah looks just like mine did with the "too springy" oven problem. But, the best French Toast ever!

Anxious to read about your upcoming renovation, and other baking exploits

Cheers

rpse said...

it's kind of wonderful that you saved this commemorative bread for the last. true it doesn't look like a traditional braid but i find it very attractive just the same. the trick here is to let it rise until when you poke it with your finger it doesn't spring back so you know it won't continue to rise in the oven. but the texture inside looked perfect so: success!
by the way, sister marie, i also have a wolf.
i've really enjoyed reading everyone else's comments--especially from the person who is sharing diaries with her daughters. i had to laugh out loud at the rubbish bin surprise though with tears in my eyes.
so my surprise for you marie is that i'm heading your way april of 2008 and hope to be able to shake your hand in person--skip that--give you a big hug and see your new kitchen!
thank you for the incredible honor you've give me and my work and the weekly enjoyment.
xoxo
rose

breadbasketcase said...

Knead to Bake,
The Christmas Cookie Cookbook was my first "Rose" cookbook. I've had it for ten years or so, and I always bake at least one cookie out of it every year. Every cookie from this book has been a success, and I'm looking forward to trying a new one. I especially love the rugelach and the Mahogany Buttercrunch Toffee.

breadbasketcase said...

Melinda,
I'm so glad you're getting the KitchenAid and the Bread Bible for Christmas! I know what you mean about anxious present givers--Jim would prefer it if I would do all the shopping, instead of just all of it except for me. I have to say that he has never sunk so low as a rubbish bin. He did get me a book of lawyer jokes, though. We were not amused.

breadbasketcase said...

Spancrazi,
Did you read Rose's comment about the finger poke test? I was in a hurry to get the bread baked, though, so I omitted that test. I'm sure that bread does best when you approach it with a very zen attitude and just accept that it will be ready when it will be ready. But zen attitudes come hard for a person who likes to make lists and cross thinks off of them.

breadbasketcase said...

Rose,
How exciting that you're coming to Minneapolis! Very smart of you to come in April--the snow will probably be melted by then. I can't put you on my calendar yet--I just bought the 2007 one--but I will not plan any vacations in that month.

rpse said...

spancrazi--just for the record--i am a major list maker and crosser offer to the point that precomputer years ago my husband suggested i get a word processor bc i was wasting so much time retyping the list each time i crossed one item off! i haven't thought about this in a long time. computers and internet have increased productivity to such a great extent so now i can direct my compulsive tendencies in a more creative way!

marie--i know april 2008 seems like a long time off but it will pass so quickly, for me it between now and then it means finishing editing and reviewing the recipes, then copy editing, book design, a million reviews of galleys and proofs, photography.....i actually am beginning to wish i had another year but then i always do!
thanks for reassuring me that you won't plan to be away then!

Bob in Louisville said...

Congratulations. I am behind on my blog reading, so this seems late, but I have enjoyed your adventures with Rose's recipes - and followed your lead on a few. This is quite an accomplishment and a job well done.

breadchick said...

Congratulations Marie. I'm late in catching up with your blog but didn't want this to pass without saying it has been great watching your baking and I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the new kitchen over the next year.

breadbasketcase said...

Thanks Breadchick,
Demolition may begin tomorrow!

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