Every Friday, Ninja and I bake bread (and break bread) together. Not just any old bread, but delicious challah, plaited bread traditionally eaten by Jews on shabbat.
We have a nice routine worked out. I go to aerobics at 08:30am, usually leaving Ninja still in bed, and by the time I get back, he has done all the hard work, and there is a bowl of dough rising. By the time I have showered, it is ready to plait, which we do side-by-side, on a floured counter. We each make three small loaves, and I try my best not to prod and poke Ninja’s and just focus on my own. Anyway, he is very good and certainly chief bread baker in our house.
After making the challot this Friday, I spent a few more hours in the kitchen pre-preparing various delicacies (we had guests for dinner) including perfect tiny pears sautéed in brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom, to be served in a salad with baby greens, Roquefort and walnuts; berry and mango coulis, for drizzling over home-made meringue nests filled with a light whipped fromage frais; and last but not least, sangria made with fresh fruit, ginger ale and red wine, which tasted like a balmy evening somewhere in Spain.
Mouth-watering pictures below…
The Risen dough, before being punched down…
The plaiting begins…
Ninja’s nimble fingers…
1 package of active dry yeast (we use Shimrit)
2 cups warm water
½ cup + 1 tbsp. sugar
8.5 – 9 cups flour (We use 6 white and 2 whole wheat, you can also use just all white or all whole wheat)
1 tbsp. salt
½ cup oil
1. Mix together yeast, warm water, and 1 tbsp. sugar in mixer bowl. Let it proof for 1 minute (you should be able to see bubbles when the yeast ferments).
2. Add ½ cup sugar, 4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture, and mix a bit.
3. Add eggs and oil. Mix well.
4. Add 4 more cups of flour, and mix well. You will need ½ – 1 cups of flour more while kneading, until the dough isn’t sticky (if it is springy to the touch and doesn’t stick to your fingers).
5. Let the dough rise for about an hour. Punch down, and let it rise again.
6. Form into 4 – 6 loaves, let rise again. Beat an egg, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and lightly brush over the loaves for a shiny glaze.
7. Bake for 22 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius
8. Separate the Challot from one another and from the pan while they are still hot.
A plait of 4…
Plaited challah, before being left to rise…
After rising, before glaze, before baking….
Beaten egg, to glaze the challot…
Fresh out of the oven…
I poured a bottle of red wine (cheap wine is fine), and about 300-400 ml of ginger ale (to taste) over a pile of fruit cut into cubes (2 oranges, a lemon and an apple) in a large saucepan. I may have a added a little sugar. I left it all to chill in the fridge for a few hours and then served it in a jug, topped with ice. Sweet, fruity and perky.
Pears sautéed in a little bit of butter, brown sugar, cardamom and cinammon
Berry and Mango Coulis