Daring Bakers’ May 2012: Challenging Challah

Today it's been hot - and that's proper hot, not hot by Scottish standards. Whilst it was lovely to have properly warm weather, it was unfortunate that what will probably be one of the hottest days of year, was also the day for the Edinburgh Marathon. I was only doing one leg of a team relay and that was hard enough in the heat - how the full marathon runners coped I have no idea. But it did bring out a fantastic community spirit, with lots of local people getting their hosepipes out and kids with water pistols giving the runners a cool shower as they passed by.

As a result, I'm writing this enjoying a guilt-free celebratory cider, radiating a warm glow from my slightly sunburned shoulders!

But I digress - back to the Baking...

May's Daring Bakers' Challenge was pretty twisted - Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from "A Taste of Challah", by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Firstly, I did exactly as suggested and practised my challah braiding using some of Mini-M's play-dough!

Simple three-strand braid
Four-strand braid
Four-strand braided round
Six-strand braid - tricky!
Once I was feeling confident, I tried it with the real thing. I used the 'Easy Challah' recipe suggested in the challenge, which you can find here. I halved it, which made two mini loaves.

When I went to make my dough, I discovered that the bread flour I had in the cupboard was multigrain - which is definitely not traditional - but I continued regardless and it worked out not too badly. In the end I opted for a four strand braid, and four strand braided round.

Braided and having a final rise before baking
They lost their shape slightly during cooking, but they kept the characteristic challah look, and tasted delicious.

Baked and delicious!
And to finish, just in case anyone remains unconvinced by the Scottish sunshine... this was taken at 11am this morning.
Marathon relay change over at Cockenzie