I can't believe The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is already on its 6th week and my enthusiasm for baking hasn't waned. Maybe because this week it's Challah, one of our favorite breads from the first time I saw its dark golden bumpy crust at the grocery. The grocery-store variety are not the very best tasting challah yet I bought the loaves on a regular basis. I only started baking them when I saw a sweet potato recipe and we had it for Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was sweet and delicious. For Christmas I baked a regular one [also] with dried cranberries in the dough. Equally yummy.
I had always wanted to try my hand at shaping a round challah that I see on the web and this challenge has encouraged me to make it. The BBA has instructions for a 2-strand braid but I wanted a 4-strand round. I found this with step by step photographs on how to shape a woven round challah, very easy to follow. After finishing weaving and the dough turned over I was so satisfied and happy with myself for accomplishing something I thought was too complicated.
The challah recipe in BBA is one of the easiest and fastest to make which means you get to eat the fruits of your labor in just a few hours. I love its tasty very soft yet chewy crumb and the fact that it has no butter. For the oil, I usually use extra light olive oil or grapeseed oil because both oils are the most neutral tasting and healthy too as they can help raise the "good" cholesterol level. I also read that olive oil increases the shelf life of baked goods which is a plus. I divided the dough into two 22-ounce pieces, one I made into a 4-strand braid. I forgot to take photos of the braiding process. I didn't use the book's instructions as the previous braids I made using this method somehow looked uneven, I can't explain why. I followed the braiding technique in this video instead and the braid came out good. No matter how it looks, lopsided or perfectly shaped, the BBA Challah is number one in my book.:)
great for grilled cheese sandwich: grated Gouda, apple carpaccio, and fig preserves
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
Average: a perfect 5