Tuesday, 9 May 2017

(Not Quite Kosher) Loafers! It Is Challah Time!

Well, this week is all about breads ... good breads ... and starting at work VERY early! What a learning experience.

I arrived at school at 05h55 to unload. Jahquane was already waiting there ... Herold showed up about 2 minutes later. We unloaded the car of supplies and went into the kitchen. Willem turned up about 3 minutes after this, kindness of Mom's taxi. We all needed coffee (and Willem was up to the job of making us all wake up in the nicest possible way)! Coffee it was, all 'round.

Challah takes time to learn to make ... it is not the simplest of recipes, although it is a straight-dough. The three secrets of making good challah are; get all the temperatures right (including those of the bowls and racks), move rapidly to make the dough after a completed mis-en-place, and braid and egg-wash with verve after proofing! These are easier said than done, but today's excellent results speak for themselves. It takes a lot of practice to be able to rock this stuff with confidence and panache.

The brigade arrived and was all at work by 06h20.
This was QUITE the shock. The brigade looked ... tired. Except Coco, who is the DuraCell Bunny of student chefs (and just a fabulous cook).

The bowls were warmed ... the yeast carefully blossomed ... the mixers used ... the flour added and stirred by hand to make a ragged dough ... and then the dough put on the hook for about 4 minutes, with a finish of hand-kneading until supple and just slightly damp-feeling (tested with the baby-formula-check inside of the wrist). Then ...


Have a little discussion about the intimate relationship, over centuries, perhaps millennia, of bakers and brewers ... both are the yeast-users and collectors and cherishers of any long-ago village ... and beer or ale and bread-baking are intimately inter-twined in western culture.

My students do not wait well. They have little patience (typical), so everyone made themselves breakfast. AND cleaned up beautifully. This chef had more coffee. If I cut myself this morning I would bleed brown.

Then ...

Set up the boards and clean counters ... bring down the risen dough (Yahya and Makayla demonstrate)
... turn out the dough ... cut into two large portions then each portion into three lumps.

Roll the lumps
into long cylinders,

and braid them together.
Proof them on baking sheets

Add a slight egg wash and, if desired, sesame seeds or poppy seeds (as Jenny is demonstrating)


Voila! Challah!

And it was delicious.

Jahquane kindly shared half of his loaf ... ALL the rest were carefully taken home, with blushing pride.

Well done, Bakers! (Or should I call you Loafers?!) See you again wicked early almost every day this week!


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