Tomorrow I will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, with family and friends. It is traditional to eat lots of honey and apples during this high holy day to usher in the new year with sweetness. The challah dough from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is made with honey, then I fold chopped apples into the dough and braid it into a circle. You can do any shape you like, but the circle is meant to symbolize the full cycle of the coming year. This bread may be ubiquitous at the high holy days, but it is wonderful anytime, especially during apple picking season here in the Midwest.
Braiding doesn’t just have to be for sweets. I found myself with some 2 week old – (truth be told it was closer to 3 weeks) dough and it was a little wet to shape a nice tall boule. We always recommend using older dough for flatbreads or baking it in a loaf pan, since it can lose some of its rising power in the later stages of storing. Well, it turns out this older dough makes a wonderful braided loaf, with lots of flavor and a really open crumb. Because the braid isn’t as domed as a boule, the older dough has all the rising power it needs.
My dough was made with Gold Medal Organic All-purpose flour, a bit of rye, whole wheat and Platinum yeast by Red Star. Like I said, it was almost 3 weeks old, but this technique can also be done with fresh dough and really any of our doughs, not just the Peasant dough recipe will work great.
September is the month of the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This Six-Strand Braided Challah, using our five minute dough, is a beautiful and festive way to celebrate. Traditionally for Rosh Hashanah we bake the bread in the shape of a ring studded with raisins, but if you serve any of our delicious challahs you will do the holidays justice.
Braiding six strands takes a bit of technique, but once you have the rhythm the braid goes together quickly and easily. Keep in mind that you are only working with one strand at a time, so there is no juggling to do. You want to be sure to keep your hands and work surface well floured so the strands don’t become sticky as you work.
This weekend I over did it. Not with buckets of dough, but in my garden. I am determined to recreate the organic urban farm I had last year, but this time I am doing it without the aid of a professional farmer. Just me, a bunch of compost/manure and my dad, who happens to be a long time green thumb. I spent 12 hours prepping the beds and getting in some seeds. At the end of the day my right hand (the hand I write with) was so swollen I couldn’t move my fingers, tendonitis. The Dr. says not to use it for 2 weeks ~ 2 WEEKS! (I am typing this with one hand.) In order to do this post I enlisted my friend Jen to help make a Danish Braid. She is a great sport and it turns out quite skilled at modeling/braiding/baking.
The braid is made with the Brioche from ABin5, but you can do this same thing with any of the enriched doughs from that book or HBin5. We’ve done this same technique with savory fillings, so let your imagination go wild and let us know what you come up with.
Happy Mother’s Day! (more…)