Friday, July 3, 2009

Bread #6 - Challah

Behold the Challah!

Maybe it was the six years in Catholic school; I don't know. What I do know is that I cannot tell a lie. So, here's what happened:

I baked the challah out of order! I baked it ahead of the casatiello! Since this is not in keeping with the premise of this challenge, I tried to pretend that I hadn't really made the challah. I just went on to the casatiello, with the intention of slipping in a second version of the challah. Who would know? Uh, huh. In the words of my great art teacher at San Diego Mesa College, Walter Chapman, or as we knew him, "Chappie," when I said to him, "Oh, it's okay if the tails of my yarn are not tucked in to my weaving on the back. No one will know."

To which he replied with a deadpan face, "Diane, the angels will know."

I actually steadfastly deny the existence of angels, but those words of Chappie's mean something far more to me. And that is, that I will know. That sense of conscience is so much a part of me that I can't fudge even a little bit.

So, I made the challah a second time. I made it within the given week for challah; I'm just behind on my blogging. Summer vacation, you know!

What follows, then, is the chronicle of two breads, both named, Challah:

Here is the dough rising for Challah #1:

Challah # 1 rising in my beautiful marigold 75th anniversary celebratory Fiestaware bowl.

After the second rise, I braided it into one glorious loaf:

Challah #1, glistening with an egg wash, ready for the sauna; I mean, oven.

Another shot of this amazing bread. I can't get over how it rose!

Challah #1 in the oven; not quite up to its ideal internal temperature.

Again, behold the glorious Challah!

I know the following photographs are not as clear as they could be (John Oldenkamp, where are you when I need you?) but I wanted everyone to see the texture, the crumb of this bread:

Come on, admit it; you're mouth is watering. Fuzzy pictures or not, you want to slather Challah #1 with butter and sink your teeth into it right now.

And now on to Challah #2:
I made it exactly the same way as Challah #1, except I did a double braid; one larger, one smaller, with the smaller one placed strategically on top. As you can see, however, the smaller one had different plans. Remember Chappie? His answer would have been, "The Indians always had a planned flaw in their artwork because only God is perfect." I like that philosophy.
Challah # 2 rising. The smaller braid is already listing. Drat!
Even with its "planned flaw," Challah #2 has quite a dramatic presence.
Challah #2: Always the Drama Queen!

I'm always telling my good friend, Carole Levin, "I just know that I was Jewish in another life; I have such an affinity with my Jewish friends."

And, I love a good challah as much as the next person, but come on, two loaves in one week? Magnificent as they were with butter, with peach-apricot jam, with orange-apricot marmalade, how much challah can a person eat? And then I remembered the salvation of many a Jewish mother: bread pudding.

I cut up six thick slices of the challah, put them in a baking dish, and poured the custard over. The custard consisted of a quart of non-fat (yes, non-fat - sheesh! how many hours on the elliptical can I do?) milk, whisked gently with 6 eggs, 3/4 cup of Florida Crystals natural sugar, and some freshly grated nutmeg. I then scattered a handful or two of plump raisins throughout and baked it at 350 degrees until it was puffed and golden brown, about an hour or so.

Now, that was something of which the angels would be proud, not to mention Chappie!


  1. LOVE both of your braids and your custard sounds great. We are overloaded with breads here too. :)
    Have a great 4th of July,

  2. Loved your angel story!! Challas are beautiful too, even for a good Catholic girl!!