30 by 30: making challah bread

Today is kind of special. It marks the day I crossed off the very first thing off my 30 by 30 list (over a month after my birthday… I better pick up the pace, heh).

As you know, I spend the week on a conference in NY (btw, Adam is loving all the meals I made him… and thank you for your sweet comments. I did feel like an awesome wife for doing that). This weekend I’m staying at my sister’s place in Brooklyn – hanging out with her and my friend Katy, and of course, baking and cooking. The natural light is too good at her place to miss such an opportunity! [Remember last time’s cookie baking extravaganza, rice crispie treats, sugar-free brownie dough balls, and baking with protein powder? Those are my favorite pictures from the blog!)

I’m focused this year with the list so I knew I wanted to tackle at least a few items from it and maybe a thing or two for Russian Bites. Every single Saturday morning, my sister and her boyfriend make French toast for brunch so I decided to take on the challenge and make French toast with homemade challah bread [challah was part of my 30 by 30 challenge.]

I used the Bon Appetit recipe that my blog friend Michelle recently tested. Wanna see some pics from the process?? [Say yes!]

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[yeast, sugar and warm water get all bubbly]

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[Mixing dough by hand]

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It got pretty gluttonous.. and sticky for a while. I just kept kneading and adding flour.

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Eventually it was time for it to rise… and time for me to go out with my friend Katy (we went to the Westville Restaurant btw, and ohmygod guys… if you’re ever in NY, go there!!!! Best meal in recent memory and not expensive!)

The dough was supposed to rise for 30 minutes… it’s been many hours. So yeah, it got a little over ambitious Winking smile

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I punched it down and put it on a well floured countertop. It was all good!

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Love the pockets of air!

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At this point I divided the dough into 2 balls (it makes 2 loaves) and braided one and put the other half in the fridge. I read right after that if you don’t want to bake it right away, you can actually store the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days so I put away both the braid (which you shouldn’t do anyway) and the other dough ball, and went to sleep.

Next morning, it was time to braid the other dough ball. Here is how we do it:

Roll (by hand) into three 9-10” ropes (if you want a fat braid for sandwiches, etc… you can also have longer ropes which would make a longer but skinnier challah… just make sure they’re all the same length.

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Now, right over middle; then left over middle

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Repeat… (new) right over middle, (new) left over middle

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Pinch the ends; flip the braid

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Repeat the same process (left over middle; right over middle… pinch the ends)

Yay, it looks like challah!

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Cover with towel and let it rise for another 30 minutes while the oven is preheating. Then it’s egg wash time!

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Pretty!

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I’m obsessed with this picture (below)!!!!

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Don’t you just want to rip a piece off? We did Smile

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Ready for the best french toast of your life?? This one goes in the “sane” category because there is not much healthy about it… but man, is it good. Going on the favorites list for sho

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Crème brulee French toast (note I attempted the broiling method for the sugar topping but was so scared to burn the tops that I ended up just taking them out and shaking off most of the sugar. It was beyond fantastic even without it… and hey, just a tad healthier Smile )

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Custardy (not to be confused with soggy… it definitely was not) french toast with some organic raspberries… and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This tasted like it came straight from a fancy restaurant’s brunch menu, and I felt pretty good about making it all from scratch!

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Mmm, this was slightly reminiscent of lemon pound cake with berries.

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When can I have this again?? Winking smile

Have you ever made challah bread? I definitely plan on doing it again to perfect it. It will be even easier with my KitchenAid at home. I do think I’m going to try a different recipe though… this one was slightly lacking in the salt and maybe even sugar dept (although pure perfection in French toast form).

Oh and… this is off topic but… Taste of Cambridge this year is on June 28 (this coming Tuesday) and I scored tickets over the weekend and am beyond excited to attend the event. I wasn’t around last year and read numerous recaps from my blog friends and was super jealous, so I know it’s going to be a fantastic evening of food, drinks and friends! You can find more info about the event here. This year’s beneficiaries include The Salvation Army Cambridge/Somerville Corps “Restoring Lives Capital Campaign and The Saturday program of the Cambridge special olympics. If you come, definitely say hello!! :D

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