January 1, 2015
I’ve never tasted homemade Challah. I’ve only bought from bakeries and they’ve been sweet, and fluffy, but not very chewy. I always considered it a fattening bread due to the amount of sugar and oil necessary to give it its character, and extend its shelf life. And I usually add to those calories by making a Ham and Cheese Strata, so I didn’t really expect much different making my own. I was impatient waiting for it to rest and rise, but I understood. I only hope it understands me too and doesn’t “hang around” my belly (if you know what I mean). I take after my family, the way I love bread.
Well, much to my surprise, and in spite of the honey, this Challah wasn’t so sweet, and it had a marvellous texture—fluffy yet very chewy. The biga was definitely present. I’m perfectly turned around. As you all know, I totally underestimated the amount of time the biga took to “cook.” It’s such a small amount of yeasty dough that grows and transforms into a fermented, sour mass. We haven’t made biga since the panettone, I think (or maybe on another time). I was curious; what’s the difference between biga and dough starters? As it turns out, biga is used when a light open texture is desired (remember the Panettone?) and it makes the bread less perishable. While it’s usually used in Italian breads, it’s application is perfect here because Challah has a tendency to go stale quickly. Ah, I see said the blind man. I chose this recipe for December because we are right on top of Hanukkah, and I was thinking of Mendy. Sorry to see him leave us, but I certainly understand and wish him well.
One other note: as per Rose’s suggestion, I used the recipe from Rose’s blog page, rather than the Bread Bible.
WHAT ARE THE ALPHA BAKERS? : Here’s how it works: once a month, for the next two years, 25 Alpha Bakers commit to baking their way through every recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. Each month we post our experiences on our blog sites: our successes, our failures, our like and dislikes . The recipes are scheduled in advance so that everyone is baking the same recipe at the same time. No recipes can be shared in my Alpha Bakers Bread Bible posts due to publishing restrictions enforced by the publisher, but if you love to bake bread, this is a must-have book. You can see other tutorials for the same recipe at the following link The Bread BibleAlpha Bakers at http://breadbiblealphabakers.blogspot.ca/