I have fond memories of challah bread. Growing up it was definitely one of my favorites. I loved the pretty shape of the loaves, the sweet flavor, and the soft yet firm, tender texture. It was a staple at the local diner and their deep fried challah french toast was a thing of beauty. When Aunt Marie would bring home fresh loaves all I wanted to do was tear them apart and eat them with my fingers. Sadly that was not the way we ate challah. It was usually cut into thick slices and eaten, fresh or toasted, with a slather of salted butter. The first time Amaya was old enough to appreciate a loaf of challah she immediately pulled it apart with her tiny fingers before taking a bite. This made me so happy. Classic challah should be a tactile experience for those who play with their food.
Unfortunately a loaf that has been pulled apart can be challenging to use for sandwiches and toast. Although I enjoy irregular, craggy chunks of bread with crisp dark edges and tender insides, I seem to be in the minority there. So in the interests of efficiency I have been playing with a challah loaf. Baked in a pan de mie pan, it makes for beautiful sandwich bread and toast. Right out of the oven the crust is crisp and almost crunchy and after a period of rest it softens into something tender and resilient wrapped around the tender crumb. I'm still working out the kinks in the recipe to find my balance of toothsome and sweet but this loaf was a happy success. I'd like to make a batch of dough that allows for a perfect pullman loaf and a small braided loaf just for me. That would truly be the best of all worlds.
January 29, 2006
January 29, 2005