Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest

Oh my gosh. This is technically my 3rd time working with yeast. For the purposes of this post, we will not revisit my old high school Chem 101 phobia of yeast.  I just had a great time with this particular recipe.  It was easy enough for me to do, a newbie in the bread baking world.  I've made bread from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's book Artisan Bread in 5 and that was a [tasty] breeze as well! 

I wish I could say that I took photos step by step but sadly, I did not.  I barely clicked off my finished shot before I devoured [no pun intended] half the loaf.  I can, however, mentally recall the steps.  Well, at least the parts I was questioning.  You know how I love my questions. [for recipe, please visit our host, Big Black Dog]

Step 1:  Decide to half the recipe since I knew if I made the full 4 loaves, I'd eat it all and it would just show up on my @$$.  Mix in all the dry ingredients and realize that I kept the same amount of yeast as in the regular recipe.  CAREFULLY scraped out what I thought was 1/2 the amount of yeast.

Step 2:  Mix in the wet ingredients.  But wait. ..the regular recipe calls for 3  large eggs.  So, what?? Am I supposed to use HALF an egg? what the heck was I supposed to do with the other half?? Hmm...looked at the egg carton that said JUMBO on it.  Maybe that would qualify has 1-1/2 LARGE eggs...Ok, ONE jumbo egg, coming right up [and if it looked too dry, I'd just throw in another 1/2 a jumbo egg].

Step 3: Let it rest...2 hours later I'm nearly having a heart attack because it hadn't risen.  Oh wait. I forgot. It's really cold in LA right now...and subsequently in my house [YES, 40 degree weather IS cold for us in the City of Angels] as well.  I threw it into my oven and let it rise.

Step 4: Darn, too late to bake the bread tonight.  Stuck it into the fridge.

Step 5: Pull dough out of the container and and start rolling it out.  3/4".  Hmmmm...that sounds really small.  Or maybe it's that whole perception of what 3/4" really is.  I'm going with what I think looks right.

Step 6: Read the directions to braid.  Ok, I'm NOT retarded.  I know how to braid.  What do they mean not move the center strand?? how do you braid without moving the center strand?? HUH??  Hmmmm...I'm braiding it like I do my hair...if I still braided my hair, that is.

Step 7: Let rise IN MY OVEN [I'm dumb but at least I try not to repeat my mistakes] for 45 minutes.  In which time, I sat around waiting for the bread to rise.  No solutions to world peace, no christmas cards, no gift wrapping. Just sat and waaaaaiiiiited.

Step 8: Take the loaf out of the oven & pre-heated....waiting some more.  BEEEEP! oven is ready so I throw the bread in.  3 minutes later, I RUN back to the kitchen to pull out the bread to brush on the forgotten egg wash.  

Step 9: Wait another 30 minutes in which time I watched "Sing Off". Man. This is good stuff. I wish I could sing.

Step 10: Pull the loaf out of the oven and plate it. Take 3 photos and can not WAIT to dig into the bread.  I did not even wait 5 minutes for it to cool off.

I saw on Bread365 blog that she made cinnamon rolls out of them. TOTALLY going to do that! brills.  My co-workers may be getting a special treat tomorrow...If i don't eat it all first.  I'm such a little piggy.


  1. Jenny: I really enjoy reading your blog and trying your recipes...but how come you didn't do this when I was still there? ;-)

  2. What gorgeous photos! And your cinnamon rolls look so good...wish I had one right now!

  3. emily: Man, those were rough days!! i barely had time to bathe! :)

    Michelle: thank you so much!! I wish i had normal day light but I guess I'm going to have to invest in some lights to take better photos!!

  4. For your third time working with yeast, you sure put out two beautiful products. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Love the cinnamon rolls! Judy L, TN (formerly of Sherman Oaks, CA)

  6. Braid looks great! I am battling not polishing off the loaf myself, too. I have to say the directions about braiding that went with the recipe confused me also. I figured I knew how to braid but starting in the middle and figuring out what to move and not move...I resorted to YouTube, and the lady I watched did it just like a regular braid from one end to the other and no mention of not moving strands!

  7. B.O.H : I *LOVE* your crown bread! it's so beautiful!!!

    Judy: former neighbor!! TN??? what a change!!

    Jenny: Thank you for saying that! I'm a visual person so trying to mentally imagine what the instructions are saying is so difficult for me!!

  8. What a hoot!!! I have done the same thing 3 min later bread back out of the oven and egg wash it!!! Great job..........

  9. Wow I can't believe this is only your third time working with yeast! This came out wonderfully. I loved your step by step instructions...they made me laugh.

  10. Female Chef: thanks! [at least it wasn't 13 minutes later!!]

    Joanne: My friends will attest - this is really how my thought process works. Sad, but true! :)

  11. glad to hear things are better now!

  12. Loved your blow-by-blow account.

  13. Oh, great job!!! Both look amazing!

  14. An enthusiastic "Holla!" for your challah. *crickets chirping* Okay, bad pun. But looks awesome, jen! Be sure to make me my cinammon buns when you make me my pot roast. ;-D -tosh

  15. Love your challah, the braid is beautiful. And your rolls look so tasty, like I want to reach in and grab one!


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