Oy the guilt. I’m so far behind on these posts. While I’ve been bad about blogging, I’ve actually been keeping up the baking at least once a week although it’s not always from The Book. I’m probably five recipes behind, but I’m going to try my best to get caught up before the next bake.
This bread frightened me because I just was having trouble figuring out how I was going to braid it. Was it like braiding hair (sort of, not really)? Could I get it tight enough? Would I be able to crack the plait? The short answer – nope.
I decided to focus on the three-braid challah rather than the six braid. The book had cryptic instructions for both so I just didn’t have a good feeling. I can’t tell you how many videos I watched trying to psych myself up for this bake. They made it look so easy. I could do this.
After the initial rise, I cut the dough into 160 gram chunks as instructed. Each loaf would require three of these to create the braid. Fairly obvious. Here’s one where I actually got it on the nose. It feels amazing when you get it right. Like I was elated because my dough ball was spot on in weight.
After weighing, each dough ball was shaped into a batard which is a bread roll shape that is oblong and oval in shape. The dough then rests for a bit before you start to roll out the strands for the braids. Notice that I made enough dough to make two loaves plus two extra to do something with.
Once the dough had rested, I shaped each bastard into a long piece and then attached each “strand” to each other at the top to create a starting point for the braid as shown below. It was tricky to get the dough in that shape, mainly making sure the dough was evenly shaped. It was quite a strong and tight, stretchy dough which tended to shrink up as it got longer.
Now I was ready to braid. I don’t think I did it right or got it tight enough, but here’s what they looked like when I was done. The little guy was made from the two extra batards. (True story. When you type “batards”, autocorrect puts “bastards.”)
A little egg wash and in the oven they went. Here’s what came out. Not too shabby though I was hoping there would be less expansion between the braids. I still think they look cool.
We recently had some new folks move in to the neighborhood and they had invited us to their place for a little get together. I brought the bread and it was well received which always makes me feel elated. Truly a sense of accomplishment and feelings of major pride. It’s like being high but not. (Hey. This is Colorado. You have to specify.) Anyway, bread and baking are proving to be quite pleasurable to me. I knew I loved eating bread – duh – but just never thought I’d enjoy making it, too. It’s very satisfying.
Yummy bread. I’d make it again even if I never master the braid.