Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest

by jenjenk on December 16, 2009

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.
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