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Archive for November 11th, 2011

over the edge

You know how I like my kitchen appliances? How sad and lost I am when they break? Unfortunately I have another one to add to the graveyard collection.

Yes, another one.

And this one will require a bit more research to replace and upgrade. Luckily I have my culinary school instructors to offer advice (and maybe a discount!).

As you may have noticed, I’ve moved past the bread machine for my challah and onto the KitchenAid mixer.  Just one attempt at the really old-fashioned way was enough (un œuf!) to remind me how much I rely on my tools.

Until they become unreliable.

My fourth challah recipe, this time an Israeli one from Janna Gur, pushed my mixer over the edge. Literally.

The sweet egg-y dough had been kneading in my mixer for about 7 minutes continuously when I heard a strange clunking. A loud whir. A grumble. I jumped from my perch on the couch to investigate the commotion. I made it to the kitchen in time to see the arm of the mixer flapping over the bowl as the kneading hook turned.

And then.

And then the mixer – bowl, dough, flapping arm and turning hook – took a few hops on the counter before diving to the floor.

I am not joking.

The bowl stayed miraculously locked to the base. The dough securely cradled inside.

The arm was nice and warm. Really warm. Too warm.

I kneaded the rest by hand.

I am not quite ready to share the challah recipe that led to my mixer’s demise because I haven’t worked out all the kinks. However, I did want to pass along a “braiding” technique that makes really unique challot.

Halot à la “danoise”

I discovered this braiding technique from Anne Sfez, who writes the bilingual French-English blog a foodie froggy in Paris.

Rather than braiding the loaves like you might braid your hair, she shapes challah like a danish. Anne has a great pictorial that is very easy to follow – you should check it out. But if you like unnecessarily wordy, here are my directions.

Roll. After it has risen, roll the dough into a rectangle. The size of the rectangle is up to you, but I usually make one dimension twice the length of the other.

Cut. You’re going to make evenly spaced diagonal cuts on both sides of the dough – the dough will then look like a feather. The trick to this is getting all of your cuts at the same angle and symmetrical. Mentally divide the rectangle lengthwise into thirds. Place a ruler one-third of the way from the right side (or the left side if you cut left-handed). Make a series of parallel diagonal cuts down the right side, using the ruler as a guide, and cutting towards you. I use a big chefs knife or dough scraper so I can make each cut in a single swipe and keep my wrist at the same angle. I usually leave 1-inch or so between cuts.

Flip.When you’re done with the first side, flip the dough over so the cuts are now on the left and facing you. Use a little extra flour if you need to. This is a full flip, not a 180-degree turn (which would leave the cuts also on the left, but facing away from you).

Cut again. Line up your ruler again, one-third from the right side of the dough. Using the ruler as a guide, make diagonal cuts with your right hand. Make sure that each cut starts directly across from its pair. When you finish, you should have a symmetrical feather.

Fold. Starting at the top (the point of the arrow), fold the first flap towards the center, then fold the opposite flap towards the center and over the first. Repeat this right-left-right-left (or left-right-left-right)  until you reach the bottom of the feather. You’ll be left with a little trapezoid/triangle. Pull it off and make a challah roll with it. This makes it easier to tuck the last few edges underneath the end of the loaf.

Rise and bake.

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