I love challah, but you already knew that from this post and this post. I was pretty happy when the Tuesdays with Dorie schedule was posted and challah showed up for today because it just gave me an excuse to make a bread that we all love.
It always turns out beautifully. It’s good warm, plain, toasted, or frenched.
Over the years, I have developed some shortcuts in the mixing method. All of the ingredients stay the same, but with the availability of instant yeast, the proofing step of the recipe can be cut out, especially if you bake bread often and you are sure that your yeast is active. So, I heat up the milk in the microwave until it is bubbling around the edges. Then, I add the cold butter and stir it around until it’s all melted. Next, I add the sugar, honey, and water that would normally have been used to proof the yeast. All this goes into the mixer bowl and sits until it is below 110 degrees. Once that happens, I add the eggs, salt, yeast, and 2 pounds of flour.
From there, the mixer does all the work. Oh, look! I have a new mixer!
My old 6 quart was really, really loud. So loud, that the husband bought ear protectors for me because he was worried about my hearing. It was true that standing next to that mixer while it was running usually resulted in some ear ringing. If it was on, no one could talk on the first floor of our house and be heard. After four years of this, we’d all had enough and that mixer was sent to mixer purgatory, while this shiny new one came home with us to stay.
So far, it is working out. This challah dough was its first workout and it handled the dough with ease and near silence, except for a clicking noise. In fact, every time I use it now, I feel compelled to exclaim something about how quiet it is. Amazing. And, of course, the 7 quart size will get a workout in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas with all my holiday baking.
Ok, back to the challah. This dough always looks great, feels nice and silky, and rises well, too.
It’s easy to work with.
It looks pretty, even while it is rising.
Now, as I have said in a previous post, this is not a completely traditional challah with the butter and milk added, but it is worth re-arranging the diet, in my opinion, to have this once in awhile, if you have to do that. Other oil-based challahs are good, but this one does owe some of its yumminess to that buttery flavor.
Best of all, it tastes great, has a wonderfully soft texture, and keeps well on the counter for a few days or indefinitely in the freezer, if you don’t eat it all up first. So, what are you waiting for? Go make some challah!
It’s been ages since I’ve posted any knitting progress, mostly because things have been so busy with other things that I haven’t had much time for knitting. That, and I was bouncing back and forth between projects because there wasn’t one that seemed especially compelling. The great thing is that all those rows here and there do eventually add up and become measurable progress, except for that sweater that had to be ripped out entirely, but we won’t speak of that now. Right now we will focus on progress.
All my pieces for blumchen are finished and there’s just some seaming to do.
I am a little apprehensive about this one. The pieces stretched more than I was expecting after their bath and I think it may be too long for me now. I’ll get back to you on how that turns out.
The mystery shawl knit along is also finished. This one was a weird one to block. I redid it three times and then finally had to embrace the ruffley edge and declare it good enough. It’s my first ruffley edged anything, so it took awhile to get use to the idea, but I think I like it now.
The shawl looked like a pile of scrunched up yarn before it was blocked, so I am pleased with how it blocked out, especially since the yarn was so thin in spots that I was worried it would break while blocking. There were no disasters (that have been discovered yet), so I am pretty happy all around with the results.
Now, I am one to the next series of projects by a new to me designer, Romi. She’s just started a series of patterns called the Great Oddments Knitdown, which is a collection of 15-18 projects using about one ball of yarn each. I am hoping it will help me use up some leftover yarn balls and bits from past projects that have multiplied around the house. Plus, it might give me some instant gratification in my pile of long-term knitting projects.
So far, I am off to a good start. The first pattern came out on Friday and I was finished with the knitting before the weekend was over. All it needs now is a little blocking and a big pom-pom. I also managed to finish an old multicolored quincy hat that had been on the needles for a couple of years and the first of a pair of socks. It was a productive knitting weekend for me. I am looking forward to a nice long holiday weekend full of knitting progress. How about you?
In my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, I don’t know a whole lot of people who love to bake, knit, or craft as much as I do. So, I spend a lot of time on Ravelry, a knitting facebook kind of group, I bake along with Tuesdays with Dorie, and I joined a do.good.stitches, a charity quilting group. In some groups, we do swaps to try to get to know other members better. It’s a great way to make friends who have common
obsessions interests. Plus, who doesn’t love to shop for crafty supplies or get some unique yarn or a handmade gift?
My sewing group organized a secret swap recently, and we were each tasked to make something for our partner. I was a little apprehensive about this, since I am not as experienced a sewist as many others in the group, but I decided to dive in any way. The project I chose to make was a tote bag. I used the market tote pattern from a book called Patchwork Please . This one appealed to me because of the two large pockets on either side. I am a sucker for pockets and I often wonder why bags don’t have more of them.
To make the bag more interesting, I made patchwork panels on the outside instead of just using a large piece of fabric. I have to say, my favorite part of the bag are the handles. Aren’t they great?
And there’s another little pocket on the inside, too. Also, to make the bag sturdier, i used interfacing in the lining as well as the exterior. It was a challenging project for me, but I am pretty happy with the results, and I hope my partner likes it, too!
Yesterday, I received a package from my secret swap partner. This little quilt is fabulous, don’t you think? I love the way the colors interact with each other and make different designs, depending on the way you look at it.
I am going to hang this in my sewing corner so that it can in inspire me when I am in there. There were some extra goodies, too: a cute little bag (perfect for notions and things), cool fabric and a great quilt pattern that I am excited to make.
On the knitting side of things, I received a swap package from a fellow knitspot club member this week.
It was a fun box of goodies that has brightened up my very busy week. I especially love the indigo dyed yarn and the cute sheep ornament.
In our house recently, we have been talking a lot about the nature of giving and why we give gifts. As we enter into this gift giving season, it is too easy to get distracted by the gifts themselves rather than the reason behind them. We give gifts to show others that we care about their interests, their welfare, and we want to brighten their day. Without the love behind a gift, a gift becomes just an object without meaning, but with love, any gift, no matter the size or monetary value, can have immeasurable worth.
Sure, I can go out to the store and buy stuff that I want or need, but to get a gift, especially a handmade one, makes me feel loved and cared for. It is just one of the many ways we can show our love for each other, so I don’t advocate it as a substitute for love or concern. But, no matter what the gift, it is always a reminder that one is loved.
This post is over a week late for Tuesdays with Dorie, but I could never let it be said that I skipped a bread recipe! In our house, most of us like rye bread and pumpernickel bread, though we are divided as to whether the breads should have seeds or not. The color of this pumpernickel bread is enough to make me love it.
The ingredient list is quite daunting, but everything there contributes to the unique flavor of the dough. Of course, I could not find any prune butter, so I made the prune levkar recipe that is at the end of the book. I thought I halved it, but came up with a cup at the end, so I stowed the remainder in the freezer for the next time I want pumpernickel bread or maybe danishes.
After the prune levkar, I worked on the hot water, coffee, and chocolate mixture. Then, it was really just a matter of dumping things in the mixer bowl. I made a couple of changes. First, I used coconut oil instead of shortening, mostly because I was out of shortening. Also, I ground 2.5 tablespoons of caraway seeds and left out the ones that were whole. I am not a fan of crunching on whole caraway seeds, though I do not mind their flavor.
The dough came together quite well. It was nice and silky and cleaned the bowl nicely. The rise times were just right, which I attribute mostly to making sure all the liquids were still warm when I started mixing because the day I made these was a super cold day with occasional flurries in the forecast.
Instead of making two giant loaves, I made two pans of rolls, one for our dinner that night, one to freeze for Thanksgiving dinner, and two small boules that I hope will be good for sandwiches in the future.
Everyone loved them, except for me. I had one roll just warm out of the oven, and I think the flavors had not really had time to develop yet. I bet I will like them better when we have them with turkey or with a reuben sandwich. The bread had really great texture and moisture, even though there was not much oven spring to speak of. I am dreaming of combining this with a rye bread recipe to make a swirly loaf, just like they have at delis, but that will have to wait for some other day.
Here’s the recipe link!