Another quiet Sunday found me in the kitchen proofing yeast and flouring countertops while the little one slept. My heart has been set on baking Challah for some time now, and today seemed as good a day as ever to try something new. The sight of rainclouds kept me inside, where I could nestle up and watch the sky change colors and the wind blow from the comforts of our warm kitchen. I think about Challah and I remember the many celebratory Rosh Hashanah dinners from my youth. Aside from the crisp white apple slices that we would dunk lavishly in a pool of sticky-sweet honey, there was always a round loaf of store bought Challah set on the dinner table for all to enjoy. The dark brown exterior encases an ever soft, light, and moist crumb. Sometimes the loaves are even flecked with raisins.
The recipe I used called for three rises. I anticipated some challenges, since this would be my first time baking such a bread. I struggled a bit to form long strands of dough for braiding. The light dough was so filled with air that the strands kept springing back rather than stretching very easily. However, I eventually succumbed to the imperfections and to the best of my ability completed a 6 strand braid on each loaf. I felt somehow initiated. Beautiful bread has always felt like somewhat of a mystery, with Challah seeming impossible to figure out on my own. Yet here it is, and from my own hands. I loved sprinkling sesame and poppy seeds over each loaf. The finishing touches made everything feel that much more authentic.
I am excited to have another go at the recipe soon, since I can only get better with practice.