Sunday, February 17, 2008
I just got done watching the movie Waitress and now I want to make pies. The problem of course is that I really, really suck at making pies. Chris thinks that if I make enough of them I will eventually get better, but I'm not sure how long I can go failing at pies before I start throwing stuff around the kitchen.... I will likely attempt another pie soon, and if (when -- I'm a pessimist, that way I can be pleasantly surprised when things turn out right) it turns into yet another pie disaster I will give up on the idea of making 2008 the year of pie.
In other news... my parents are coming to visit later this week and my dad requested bread pudding while they are here. Bread pudding is easy enough, but I've never been happy with the bread I buy at the store to use in puddings or for French toast, therefore I decided to make some challah bread for the pudding. I used my Peter Reinhart book the Bread Baker's Apprentice for the recipe, and I was reasonably pleased with the results.
Anyone who reads this blog has probably figured out that I love the sweet recipes, so while bread baking is certainly an art I appreciate, regular bread recipes don't get me that excited. Yeasted Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Pecan Swirl... now that will get me excited... challah bread... eh. But the challah is for a good cause which makes it okay.
I should have read my friend JB's notes when he made his challah bread from the same recipe because I ran into the same problem he did -- slightly overdone because I opted for two smaller loaves instead of one big loaf. The crust was dark and very crispy while the middle was soft and chewy. It tasted fine, but plain bread just isn't my thing. However, that crispy crust will soak up the milk and spices of a bread pudding wonderfully. :)
4 cups bread flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp to 1 1/8 cup water, at room temp
2 egg whites, whisked until frothy for egg wash
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (which I skipped)
Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and yolks, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Mix with a spoon (or on low speed in an electric mixer) until all the ingredients gather and form a ball. Add the remaining water, if needed.
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and knead for about 10 minutes (or mix at medium-low speed for 6 minutes with the dough hook) sprinkling in more flour if needed to make a soft, supple, but not sticky dough. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register approximately 80 degrees.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball and transfer into the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temp for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 2 minutes to degas. Reform it into a ball, return the ball to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let ferment for another hour. It should be 1 1/2 times its original size.
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 6 equal pieces (for two loaves.) Let them rest for 10 minutes. Form 3 of the pieces into long snakes of equal length and braid together (the book has excellent instructions and picture on how to do this). Repeat with the other three pieces. Place the braided loaves on baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. Brush with egg wash, then mist with oil before covering with plastic wrap and letting them rise for another 60 to 75 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Brush the bread with egg wash again, then sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the sheets and bake for 10 minutes more. (the book said 20 minutes more, but mine was overdone, so I would check it after 30 minutes total.) The bread should be a rich golden brown and register 190 degrees in the center.
Transfer it to a rack and let it cool at least an hour before slicing. (uh... yeah... an hour... leave warm bread, fresh from the oven, wafting wonderful bread smells through the house, sitting on a counter for an hour without tasting it... good luck with that.)