Monday, June 14, 2010

Cocktails and Crafts - Challah Bread

This week's craft wasn't so much a craft but more of an art - bread making. I have not been too successful at making bread, normally I can get a good rise but it still comes out brick-like. Thank goodness one of our fellow Crafters also used to work at a bakery and literally held my hand through this recipe.

The bread we picked was Challah from the Joy of Cooking and the drink was the perennial favorite - the margarita. My glass isn't full because I could resist taking a sip before remembering to take the picture.There are a million different margarita recipes out there, but we kept it simple:

  • 1 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • dash of lemon or lime juice
  • 3 oz sour mix
  • salt to rim the glass


  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake
  3. Salt the rim of the glass
  4. Pour contents, with ice, into the glass.

| Joy of Cooking


  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 c. bread flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 large yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Combine yeast and water in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the eggs, yolks, oil, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir until blended.
  3. Gradually stir in the remaining flour.
  4. Knead the dough for about 8 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl.
  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and return to the bowl. Let rise until nearly doubled.
  8. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. On an unfloured surface, roll into balls. Let rest, loosely covered, for 10 minutes.
  9. Grease and sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal (to prevent the bread from sticking).
  10. Roll each dough ball into a 14-inch long rope. Braid the dough. Pinch the ends together and tuck both ends of the braid underneath the loaf to hide the seams.
  11. Loosely cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  13. Whisk together water and remaining egg for the egg wash. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle with seeds.
  14. Baking until the crust is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 to 35 minutes.

It was a nice warm day so we let the bread sit on my front step to rise - and boy did it rise!

Here are my finished loaves! This is the prettiest bread I have ever made.
I did a couple things different when make this bread:
  1. I had Jayna helping me
  2. I added in vital wheat gluten
  3. I didn't add the same amount of flour I normally do when kneading, which apparently a lot of us do. Who knew it was supposed to be so sticky??


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