Holla! I mean…challah!

Hello, my name is Shellie and I’m a bread junkie.  I’ve been a bread junkie for 40mumblemumble years now and I do not see an end in sight!  When I think of a perfect meal, it always involves bread, butter and cheese.  Maybe some grapes.  You know-the kind that comes in a glass and makes everyone look better.  And when I think of that perfect meal, one of my favorite breads always comes to mind: challah.

image courtesy of jewishrecipes.org

 

Thinking back to my younger days, one of my favorite treats as a little Shellie was the joy of freshly baked Challah bread from Publix.  It may have been grocery store bread, but it was so good all the same.  If you have ever had challah, you know how amazing it can be.  Eggy and rich with a golden crust that shines.  I like to imagine I hear angels singing “ahhhhhhhhhhh” when I bite into it.

Now, full disclosure.  While I have made bread many times, I have never attempted challah.  Not quite sure why, but instead of riffing, I decided to follow a recipe on Allrecipes (one of my favorite sites to be sure!) for challah.  I thought this was a good recipe and since I’m a newbie to making challah, I don’t think I can improve on this recipe…yet.

However, I do have some thoughts about the recipe.  Make sure that you have tons of flour.  I mean tons.  While the recipe calls for lots of flour (8 cups), it isn’t explicit in terms of how much you need to add during the kneading process.  This is normal as humidity levels, etc differ from kitchen to kitchen.  However, I found that on a day where temps in the evening were in the low 80’s with humidity below 45%, I had to add far more flour than I do in just about every other bread recipe.  Probably another 2-3 cups.  To be fair, maybe I was distracted by the Blueberry when I was adding in flour and I missed a cup or two, or maybe my kitchen is just ridiculously humid, but in the end I think it’s just what the recipe needed, which sometimes happens.  Also, since this bread calls for eggs, have high quality eggs.  Many of us know exactly where our eggs come from, but for those of you who rely on grocery store eggs, think about spending the extra money for organic.  Since egg is such a star in this bread, you don’t want to skimp with lackluster eggs.

Is it wrong that I heard Barry White singing "...your love babe.  Can't get enough of your love babe" while I was taking this pic?  Yeah.  Probably.

Is it wrong that I heard Barry White singing “…your love babe. Can’t get enough of your love babe” while I was taking this pic? Yeah. Probably.

Also, the recipe calls for braiding the bread.  Hmm…I’m too lazy for that.  I tried it and it kept breaking but I think it’s just lack of practice.  In the end, I created 3 boules and 1 loaf.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the crust is still shiny and golden, worthy of all it’s praise.  Generally speaking, challah doesn’t rise too much in the oven.  I didn’t try it in bread pans, but I wouldn’t expect a huge fluffy loaf.  But, that’s ok because the flavor is sublime.  Try it with your favorite sandwich.  Use it instead of white bread in french toast.  Let it go a bit stale and then use it for croutons or bread pudding.  Ah, the possibilities are endless!

Happy baking!

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Vous dorloter vos oeufs? Or Alternate title: Eggs should not be hockey pucks

For many years, I labored under the assumption that all cooked eggs were rubbery, gross and sometimes a little slimey. I think it was a good solid decade in which I did not order eggs in restaurants at all because of a few bad experiences (normally had at a Village Inn/Dennys-like place at 2:00 am to be fair.)

But then I started watching the geeky goodness of America’s Test Kitchen and realized that eggs don’t have to have the hockey puck mouth feel to be done!

Classic American and French cooking techniques can differ wildly.  Many French cookbooks and blogs will lead you down the path to coddled eggs but yet the methods seem to vary from cooking them over a double boiler to cooking in boiled water (seems like poaching to me) to cooking in an oven.  I personally am itching to try the recipe that I found on I am a food blog.  It’s a Thomas Keller recipe and we totally crush on him in this house.  Sometimes we just read this for fun y’all….

nom nom nom, oh and pic courtesy of B&N

nom nom nom, oh and pic courtesy of B&N

But enough fun stuff.  How do I cook my eggs?  Well, Sheldon prefers a high heat pan where he ultimately begins to brown the proteins.  By doing this, he often removes most of the moisture and produces firm but still very pleasing eggs.  Often these little beauties are cooked in bacon fat with mushrooms and onions, so it’s all good.

For me, I prefer a riff on the coddling method where I cook them low and slow in a fat pat of butter….oh yeah…and bacon:

Presentation is not my gift, but these tasted soooo good anyway!

Presentation is not my gift, but these tasted soooo good anyway!

It takes me longer to get there, but that end result is so pleasing to my picky palate.  I have also made breakfast pizza and found it to be an awesome use of eggs that doesn’t require quite so much fat to cook.

But…I’m curious on how you all prepare your eggs?  As our chicken population is currently on the upswing, I’m sure we’re going to have more eggs than we know what to do with!   If you get a chance, respond with your favorite egg recipe!