November 24, 2010
It cold out there.
I'm not generally one to nay-say the presence of snow, but the meaning has changed for me over time. I guess that's part of growing up. Instead of snowball fights and hot chocolate, I think of electric bills and automobile troubles. I think about how the melt will turn to ice, and I wonder how long it will take for me to get to work using public transportation. I think about how our apartment leaks cold air in from every nook and cranny, and how nice it would be to have a wood stove...
We were lucky last year. Our colder months were generally mild. The temperature did fall into the single-digits for about a week, but the skies remained blue. But this year? I've been saying to Matt since summer's end that I think we're in for a hard winter.
But it's not all bad. I also associate winter weather with books (I haven't read a legit fiction novel in months!), and lots and lots of baking. This year, I'm feeling particularly experimental. It started with the pretzels, and is slowly seeping into the realm of other intriguiging yeast breads. I may even mess around with our normal sourdough recipe to see what I come up with.
I'm thinking cinnamon rolls. Definitely.
This bread isn't Challah (which uses oil instead of butter), but it is similar. The recipe I followed didn't actually say anything about braiding the loaves, but I felt compelled. I'm sure you could use loaf pans and do just fine, but braided bread seems more festive to me. 'Tis the season, after all!
As for the taste? It's lightly sweetened and has a nice, airy texture to it even though the crumb is dense. I tend to tear chunks off the loaf and eat straight-up, but it would make for good toast or sandwhich bread.
Dang. Now I'm in the mood for an egg salad sandwhich.
You could also use this for french toast or bread pudding once the loaves go a little stale. We made a super simple bread pudding (just eggs, milk, and turbinado sugar) with it last night, and it was one of the best.
I hope you try it, and I hope you all have a happy turkey day tomorrow!
Braided Egg Bread
Makes 2 loaves.
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
Combine the milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a small saucepan and heat on simmer/low until the butter has almost completely melted. Remove and pour into the bowl of a bread machine or stand mixer. Add two cups flour, the yeast, and the eggs, and start the bread machine using the dough/pasta setting.
Allow the machine to knead the dough for 10 minutes. It should be smooth, elastic, and a little sticky. Remove the dough and transfer to a greased bowl. Let sit in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch it down and divide into two balls. Cover and let rise for 10-15 minutes.
Turn the oven to 375°F. Divide each ball into three sections. Roll the sections out into snakes about 15 inches long. Braid three sections together and tuck the ends under. Repeat the same process for the other ball, and place both braided loaves on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Beat one egg with a splash of cool water. Brush the egg mixture over the loaves. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the pan around in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the tops are a dark golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Adapted from the New Cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens.