It seemed like a good idea at the time: volunteer to make challah for Thanksgiving. For like 27 people. Some of whom have considerable more years of experience making and eating challah than I do. Just to cement the challenge, I decided to make a braided loaf so I not only had function to focus on, but also form. I should stress that I totally and completely brought this on myself. I should also stress that I could not have pulled it off without help from my mom. And her Kitchen-Aid mixer.
I started with the smitten kitchen best challah recipe because braided breads can be tricky. Ordinarily I’m all about throwing caution to the wind and making stuff up as I go along, but that doesn’t always work with baking and especially not if the finished result wants to be pretty to look at as well as delicious to eat. I skipped the poppy seeds but other than that I was afraid to deviate from her instructions.
Braiding is hard! I’ve never been good at it with hair and I’m lousy with dough, too. About the only thing I can offer in the way of reassurance is that it’s relatively forgiving once it’s baked. Here are the loaves before they went into the oven, after the second rise and the first egg wash.
And here they are out of the oven, with that magical shininess from the multiple egg washes. See how the braids pull apart a bit if you’re not careful with your breading, though?
Overwhelming response was positive, complimentary and I think rather impressed that I tackled such an unnecessary challenge right before a major holiday and emerged victorious. Only my mom knows the truth: it took most of an afternoon and I fretted at each step with my nose in the computer, making sure I was following the directions to the letter. But worth it? So yes.