Nothing beats freshly baked bread. Really, there are very few things! Even if prince charming was put up against a loaf of steaming fresh butter-melting bread, I’d probably choose the bread… like a thousand percent of the time! I’m pretty sure anyone that has filled their home with the wafting fumes of fresh bread would agree with me.
I definitely don’t make bread at home often enough. I’m sure a lot of people can say that. But why? It’s really quite simple! Not only is bread making easy, there’s also something really therapeutic about it. Turning simple ingredients like flour, water and yeast and crafting it into something completely different from it’s original state. Not to mention handling and kneading the dough, seeing the dough change throughout it’s hours of resting, and finally artfully crafting a loaf (or just poppin’ in it in a pan). Now before I go further. Yes, I said “throughout hours of resting” it can be hours.. which is why so many of us don’t make bread often. BUT if you have a morning/afternoon at your house, then it’s not so bad. I went to the store, did laundry, walked the dog and all in between giving the dough a few kneads and letting it rise!
But anyway, back to crafting a loaf. Above (and below) you’ll see some delicious looking braided loafs Which is what this is aaaalllll about. Segway into CHALLAH!!! Challah is a semi sweet egg bread, it’s fluffy and soft, sometimes topped with sesame or poppy seeds. I’s great with just a swipe of butter; it’s also GREAT for french toast and leftover thanksgiving sandwiches, oh baby! We have a few good spots here in Vancouver. Of course Solly’s, our jewish delicatessen has a nice one, Siegal’s does as well and it’s delightfully getting more popular to be seen year round in many bakeries. Nothing will beat challah in Montreal though and don’t even get me started on their bagels!!! That’s a whole other story.
See a few braids below I learned from one of teachers in pastry school, Eiberhart.. a very tall, string-bean-like pastry chef from Austria. He specialized in bread yet had contracted an allergy to flour due to being around it since a young boy in his fathers viennese bakery. He still taught each day, he just wore a mask and gloves when he could. Now that is being committed to your passion people.
Moral of the story? I, (perhaps not quite as much as Eiberhart) LOVE FRESH BREAD.
The 2 strand bread. This makes for a nice and puffy loaf!
The 6 strand braid. This braid gives a good even height for the entire loaf!
The oh so simple three strand braid.. gives you a baguette sized loaf.
Finally the 7 strand braid. Kind of like the fishtail braid you’d do for your hair. Which I cannot do to my hair for the life of me. My dough braid is also quite messy. Go figure.
- 6 cups of all-purpose flour (+1 cup to dust work bench & for kneading)
- 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 packets rapid rise yeast
- ½ cup of vegetable oil (+ plus more for the bowl)
- 1¾ cup of water (luke warm to touch)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
Before baking top with egg wash:
- 2 egg yollks, whisked, at room temperature (using whole eggs isn’t the end of the world)
- Splash of water and pinch of salt
- Sprinkle of poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
- Sift 6 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into a large mixing bowl (or if you’re lazy like me whisk them all together for a minute)
- Add oil, water, and 3 large eggs into the bowl.
- Using a spatula, mix until they are incorporated.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured kitchen counter and knead with your hands for about 15 minutes.
- Grease a clean bowl with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Place the dough seam side down into the greased bowl. Turn the dough a few times to oil its surface.
- Cover the bowl lightly with a cloth or dish towel. Let it sit in a warmer part of your house for close to one and a half hours or until it doubles in size.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
- Punch down the dough and cut it into 2 equal sized pieces using a bench scraper or a knife.
- Leave one half covered with a slightly wet towel. Divide one of the pieces into 6 equal pieces (or however many strands for the braid you choose to do) Roll each piece into a 12-14 inch strand.
- See the video below of the lovely “Bread Kitchen” women. She’ll show you how to braid.
- Make sure the ends of your braid are tucked underneath the loaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brush the top of loaf with whisked egg yolks (this gives it a nice golden brown colour shine) and sprinkle with seeds if desired.
- Let it rise on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes or until it’s “proofing” is done. It will expand while resting. It is done when you lightly poke it and your finger print remains in the dough.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top turns to golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before slicing.
- Repeat the same process for the second loaf.
- Eat while warm if you can and ENJOY!!
Goodies in this weeks treat box:
Cheese & Chive Scone
Vanilla Cupcake with Cream Cheese Buttercream
Peanut Butter Oat Bar
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
$5 for a box (1/2 dozen) or $10 for a full dozen (2 of each item)
Available for pick up or delivery in the Vancouver area (incl. Burnaby & New West) Limited boxes available. Comment below or send me an email at email@example.com to reserve a box!
This is a great way to try an assortment of items we offer.
I’m a snacker. Always have been, always will be. I think it’s safe to say I also grocery shop way too much.. I’ve mastered the in and out shopping trip. Often this results in the “I don’t need a basket” attitude and find myself juggling an armful of miscellaneous items as I approach the check out, but such is life. And boy am I grateful that I can frequent a beautifully chaotic superstore in my existence! Truly grateful. Which brings me to another thing I am grateful for. My all time favorite snack:
POPCORN. So delicious in so many ways.
What’s my go-to popcorn? Sweet and salty all the way. In fact sweet and salty all the time!!! After all, variety IS the spice of life. Which is why today I made not one, but two outrageously addicting snacks to munch on.
Sweet caramel corn and fiery roasted pumpkin seeds.
And because those two alone weren’t enough I also ushered some of that caramel corn aside to make some chicago style corn as well. If you don’t know what “Chicago Style” popcorn is, you’ve seriously been missing out your entire life. I honestly mean that. It is half caramel corn and half cheesy popcorn tossed up together into a perfect balance of sweet and salty. Just yes.
Now allow me to introduce these spicy roasted pumpkin seeds and hopefully you’ll NEVER throw your pumpkin seeds away again.
Here’s how easy they are to make:
- Begin by preheating your oven to 350F. Start shlepping the guts out of the pumpkin and into a bowl. Attempt to get all the pumpkin strings off of the seeds. Rinse them in a coriander.
- Once clean spread out on baking tray lined with parchment paper or silpat.
- Dredge the seeds with olive oil and sprinkle your seasonings on. For me it was coarse salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne and crushed chili flakes. Nice and simple. Another fave is with garlic and parmesan cheese ’cause, well everything is better with cheese.
- Give the seeds a stir so they are all well coated and pop into the hot oven for 10-15 minutes.
- TRY to let them cool down before chowing down. Enjoy the crunch!
I’ll admit it. Choux paste, or pâte à choux used to intimidate me. A few years ago eclairs, and cream puffs weren’t in my repertoire.
Why?? I do not know. Making choux paste is easy as one, two three. Really!
1. Boil together water and butter.
2. Dump in flour and work your arm till it forms a glutenous ball.
3. Throw it on the mixer while you slowly add in the eggs.
Voila! It’s really the baking part that is important… the eggs give the pastry its volume and texture so you want them to get a good even bake, drying out enough to give it a nice crisp shell. Once done they will sound hollow when tapped.
Pâte à Choux Recipe
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut in pieces)
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar (or none at all if using a sweet filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water (can do half milk for richer pastry, but it will brown faster in oven)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4-5 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400°F
Bring butter, sugar, salt, and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat and dump the flour in all at once, using a wooden spoon to quickly incorporate all of the dry flour. Turn heat to medium-high and stir constantly until the mixture begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Lightly beat the eggs and begin to slowly add them in, roughly one egg at a time. Wait until all liquid is incorporated before adding in more. Mixture is ready when it is soft and slack. It should form a soft peak when touched by your finger and feel sticky.
Fit a pastry bag with a medium large round tip. Either pipe logs for eclairs or balls for profiteroles. Bake for 15-20 min, until puffed up and golden (rotate pan if necessary.) Reduce oven heat to 350°F and bake for additional 10-20 min until golden brown and crisp. Should be light when picked up and sound hollow when you tap on them. *Note* Careful not to open the oven more than once or twice as you really don’t want any steam/heat to escape, especially in the first round of baking!
- Cool completely and either fill by poking a small pastry tip into the centre or by slicing them in half. If you’re like me and love classic, dip them in chocolate glaze and fill with Chantilly cream. ENJOY!