Tag Archives: Miscellaneous

Challah….No need to hit the Gym!

My go-to recipe for Challah has been the Ciril Hitz recipe we were given in our October bread baking class.  I even used it for the Easter bread basket.  Since I bought Hamelman’s Bread, I decided to use his recipe.

This recipe calls for high gluten flour which I actuallyhad on hand….if not I would have replaced it with bread flour.  Sir Lancelot was called to duty along with the bread flour, eggs and yolks, canola oil, sugar and an additional couple tablespoons of honey.  In actuality I should have replaced a couple of the sugar tablespoons with honey but I just added more…hey…food for the yeast and a slightly sweeter bread.

Hamelman’s recipe doesn’t require a sponge like Hitz so I piled all of the ingredients into the mixer bowl.  After the first three minutes on low I could smell the mixer bogging down.  I knew there was no way I was going to complete another five minutes on second speed.

I dumped out the bowl onto the counter and started working the dough.  There were still dried bits of flour and it was like trying to knead a deflated soccer ball and was very dry.

Inflexible dough...looks like a chicken doesn't it?
Inflexible dough…looks like a chicken doesn’t it?

I added another quarter cup of water to the dough and worked it….and worked it….and worked it….no need to go to the gym today!  What a work out.

I kneaded and pushed and pulled and slapped and whacked and beat the crap out of that piece of dough.  IMG_0748Eventually it started looking like what I was used to seeing and was stretching pretty good when slapped down.  This took about 10-15 minutes.

IMG_0749Into the proofing box….my microwave with a cup of boiled water.  After an hour I punched down gently per the instructions and left it for another hour.IMG_0751

At the end of the second hour, the dough was beg-ging to be let out.

IMG_0753 It was beautifully flexible, stretchy, golden and worth the work out!

The turned out extremely extensible.  After an initial rolling and then a rest, it stretched very well.

In Hamelman’s book he has a number braiding examples.   IMG_0757This one is called the Windsor but I decided to leave it flat. IMG_0758This used 6 strands and I took the other three, braided them and curled those into a ball.



Back into the proofing box for the requisite time while I run to the grocery store because I used up all the eggs!

Baked for 30 minutes at 380 turning and swapping the trays half way and we have some nice looking loaves.

By the Numbers

My life is now ruled by numbers.  Since sourdough takes time, I have to calculate when I want to bake my bread, count backwards by the approximate time it takes to do each step:  prepare the levain, autolyse the dough, bulk ferment with stretching & folding, shaping and into the bannetons and then how long to proof the loaves…do I have time to proof it warm or do I need to put it in the fridge and bake in the morning….will I have time to do in the morning or do I need to stretch that time till later…..oyyyyy….my brain hurts!  This isn’t supposed to be work!  It isn’t really…its something I’m loving doing so it really is fun and challenging to figure it all out.

And preparing the dough….numbers rule there too.  By following the rules of the baker’s percentage, the amount of different flours to use to achieve the right flavor as well as the correct amount of water to achieve the appropriate amount of dough hydration.  I feel like I’ve gone back to school…and in fact, I think I have….the baking school of Wendy!

IMG_0635And how many books have I borrowed from the library….I currently have 6 sitting in the kitchen right now….and have returned about an equal amount.  I’m still trying to decide which if any I want to buy to keep on hand as reference books.

Mr. & Mrs. Dove

IMG_0616 For the past three years, we have had a dove couple nesting in our bedroom window box.  I don’t know how to tell if they are the same couple but they always two eggs.  We get to watch the babies grow until they are ready to leave the nest.

IMG_0622And while we’re on the subject of birds, Ron found this little guy in the back hallway.  Apparently they have navigational issues when they leave the bird feeder and sometimes fly in the open back door.  So he has the bright idea to mark the woodpecker with acrylic paint.  Someone seeing this little guy will certainly wonder what strange type of woodpecker he is!