The Thanksgivukkah table needs a bread roll of some sort, so why not make it challah? Start by making a challah dough recipe, and then follow these how-to steps to create adorable challah bundles of bready joy.
If bread is the staff of life, then this cook has been wobbling on shaky legs for much of her culinary career. What is it about baking bread that's so daunting? I suppose I've rationalized my bread-baking evasion by telling myself it takes too long and my spaghetti-noodle arms can't knead well enough. But I recognize those are silly excuses, so this week I set about tackling the easiest bread recipe I could find.
About five years ago, New York Times journalist Mark Bittman introduced the baking-phobic world to Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe and — in typical Bittman fashion — wowed us again by reducing the 24-hour process to a mere five hours. One of us valiantly (and very successfully, I might add) took a stab at the original, but for those of us who can't plan further ahead than tonight's dinner, this may be the closest we'll come to a lovingly leavened, rustic loaf.
Bittman's recipe calls for a wet dough with plenty of yeast and leverages that high water content to steam the dough in a heavy lidded pot before browning the loaf. This process results in that crisp, crackly crust and fluffy, chewy interior that you crave in a rustic loaf, and all this without a single kneading stroke. Someday I'll pursue the weight training that will get my arms in bread-kneading shape. But until then, I thank Mr. Bittman for fostering my lazy side. For the recipe, keep reading.
While few kitchen endeavors instill a greater sense of accomplishment than baking up a loaf of yeasted bread from scratch, quick breads (like beer bread) are often more practical and fill the doughy void with panache. Take for example this tender, craggy, and all-around delectable loaf. Unlike its twice-risen brethren, it can be yours in just under an hour from start to finish — a boon for the instant gratification set. Even better, its yeasty aroma will perfume your home in an intoxicating manner as it bakes; it's a true twofer if there ever was one.
I prefer mine toasted and slathered in butter, but it's also an excellent accompaniment to soups of all stripes — especially this cheddar-beer showstopper.
Don't think you'll be able to finish up the whole loaf within a day or two? Slice up the remainder of the loaf and freeze it tightly sealed; the next time you're yearning for a slice just toast it up per usual (it may need an extra minute cook time); the freezer staves off staling exceptionally well. (This tip also translates well to near-all manner of bread, muffins, and unfrosted cake, though with cake, simply allow it to thaw at room temperature before frosting or devouring plain.)
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons shortening
1/2 package (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
1 cup water, warmed
1/4 cup milk, warmed
Vegetable oil, for frying
- In a small bowl, add yeast to warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Rub shortening into flour mixture using your fingertips.
- Stir warm milk into yeasted water. Then pour over flour mixture. Stir until a smooth, wet dough forms.
- On a floured surface, knead out dough (adding water or flour as needed for consistency that is slightly wetter than pizza dough). Roll into a ball, and use a dough cutter to divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then stretch and pat out, until each piece of dough is 1/4-inch thick.
- Place a large, thick skillet with a flat bottom atop a stove. Fill pan 1/3 full with a high-heat vegetable oil and heat on medium-high until it shimmers (about 325°F to 350°F). Add sopaipilla dough to pan (1 to 3 pieces, depending on how large the skillet is), and fry 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, then serve immediately.
Makes 8 sopaipillas.
- Breads, Tortillas/Pitas
- South American
We get it: bread baking can seem a bit intimidating. Truth be told, it's a project that bakers of any level of experience can enjoy, but in hopes of avoiding frustrating ventures, we've broken down 10 of our favorite bread recipes into categories appropriate for bread bakers of all ilk, from beginner to expert.
Have a leftover loaf from your labor or love? Try these tips for putting leftover challah to good use, most of which apply to all varieties of bread.
During the Jewish high holidays, the only thing that's better than challah for dinner is challah for dessert! When it comes to constructing a sweet loaf, peanut butter and chocolate and cinnamon and sugar are two classic combinations that you can't go wrong with. These aren't, however, the type of fillings that should be blended into the challah dough: in cinnamon-roll-like fashion, here are step-by-step photos to help you fill your challah loaves with sugary swirls.
If you've never had a pain d'epi, this pull-apart baguette is intended to mimic the appearance of the flower of the wheat stalk, or "epi" in French. Each little ear of wheat can be easily pulled apart, which makes this bread shape ideal to pass around the table at dinner parties or picnics.
If you don't have time to create a sourdough bread starter, this overnight dough is the next best thing. Complete the first step of the recipe the night before, allowing the bread to ferment overnight. This imparts a slightly sour yet floral aroma and taste.
Creating the baguette shape may seem daunting at first, but the process becomes more natural by the second or third try. To spread the dough into a rectangle shape with an even thickness, press your fingers in the center of the dough and then slowly knead it outward.
To cut even epi pieces, maintain the same 45-degree angle and spacing between each cut, then use your fingers to alternate the side that each "wheat petal" rests.
The bread will rise when it cooks, so space each loaf several inches apart. To learn how to make these beautiful pain d'epi loaves, keep reading
As a native San Franciscan, I can't get enough sourdough bread. While this isn't the only city where you can get a great loaf, it sure perfected the art before artisan bread hit the mainstream. So it was just a matter of time before I took a stab at a homemade version inspired by the town I call home.
Every region's sourdough gets its unique flavor from the yeast organisms in the starter. Therefore, my loaf has a different character than one baked in, say, South Florida. But wherever you are, you can expect that delicious tartness that gives the bread its name. For this attempt, I added some wheat flour to give it some nutty depth, but you can easily use all bread flour, too.
So roll up your sleeves and get ready for a kneading workout! For the recipe, just keep reading.