Sunday, March 8, 2009
This past week has gone by so fast. I couldn’t even believe that the weekend has come, and just as quickly, is gone. But you know what they say, when one is busy, one barely notices the time. I was defintely preoccupied at work. It was a pretty interesting week for me, to say the least. I wish I can engage you in an office gossip – but nah… LOL… you wouldn’t appreciate that in a food blog, would you now? ;oD
Anyways, I’ve always been a person who cannot sit still. I like to be busy. No, I thrive at being busy. I am always doing something even when I am sitting down. I’m the type who’s ever on-the-go and always ready to rock and roll, so to speak. I’m used to last minute changes and I adapt immediately to situations when need be.
The downside of this is that it isn’t easy for me to relax, and by this I mean, to just sit down and do.... nothing. I feel like there is always something important for me to do with my time. I have to deliberately slow down. Mr. J is very good at reminding me of this (thank God). I realize that I do need to take a break once a while. It is indeed important to take the time to appreciate the things around us, to enjoy and take in what we have at the moment, otherwise, we might miss out on a lot (and it might be too late when we realize that we did).
Anyways, enough about my rambling.
I love bread. Growing up though, I wasn’t so much of a bread eater. As you know, being Asian means that my house had more rice and noodles than bread. In the Philippines, the only meal served with bread is breakfast (pan de sal). Other than that, bread is more of a snack item to Filipinos than anything else.
However, my short stint in Europe years ago, and now being based in the U.S., have slowly changed me. I’ve come to eat bread with my meals more and I don’t crave rice as much as I used to. (Ugh. I can almost hear the gasp of some Filipinos who may scream “sacrilege!” )
I love to bake bread. Nothing compares to that sweet aroma that tantalizes our senses when baking at home. Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle of life, I rarely get the chance to bake them--- and I mean bake ’em in the old fashion way of kneading and manhandling the dough! Hehehe…. (It’s a good stress reliever, actually).
One of the breads that I love eating is Challah (pronounced “khal-lah” - you gotta make that gutteral sound too). Challah is a braided, eggy loaf of bread traditionally eaten by Jews during Sabbath, holidays and other ceremonies. It is very close to the French brioche.
I decided to make Challah for the first time. I buy it all the time so might as well try my hand at it. It came out good, didn't it? With a bit more practice, I'll have the braiding part down in no time.
Nothing beats home-made breads. They’re the best.
Sharing this home-made Challah to Lasang Pinoy Sunday: Bready Or Not. Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S) is a weekly food thematic photography meme, Filipino style.
This is also my entry to Homemade#2 Bread, an wonderful event by Ben. Hop over to there to check out all the wonderful creations by other home bakers.
from Cooking Light
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
3 tablespoons honey
Dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour (about 14 1/4 ounces), divided
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds* (I used more than this amount)
1) Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.
2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
3) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).
4) Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
5) Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.
6) Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
7) Preheat oven to 375°.
8) Combine 1 teaspoon water and large egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
*NOTE: You may also leave the poppy seeds out, or substitute with sesame seeds, or maybe use sunflower seeds for that matter.