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Friday, April 17, 2009

20" of Snow - Day One

This was the snow at about 10 am on Friday, April 16th. Many more inches to come.
That was the final total (pictures of that coming soon). 20". In April. I am a very happy woman. I love snow, and knowing that it will be close to 80 degrees in just a few days, I savored every moment of my snow days.

Hubby worked Friday (the first day of the snow), and took my SUV to work, so the kids and I were stuck at home. We stayed busy...

The kids played with every toy they had, napped, ate lunch (and some dinner), and I baked. I made challah and chocolate chip cookies...drool.

Since I always use a warm oven top as a place to rise my bread, I figured I'd actually use the oven while the bread was rising, hence the cookies.

My all-time favorite book on baking, with a fantastic recipe for challah. Williams Sonoma, "Baking"

For those that don't know, challah is a traditional Jewish bread, with a wonderful sweet flavor. It can be topped with poppy or sesame seeds, and is almost always braided (at the Jewish New Year, it comes in a round loaf to symbolize the circular nature of the New Year). The ingredients are basic: yeast, sugar, water, eggs, flour and butter:
I bake bread by hand. I refuse to ever own a bread machine. I love the process (as is a common thread in my life). (I will admit I LOVE my stand mixer though, and it has wonderful bread kneading abilities).

I always proof my yeast. Let me tell you, I never skip this step. I've learned that the hard way.

Yeast

Water at 100 degrees F

A little sugar sprinkled on the yeast, add the warm water and it looks like this.

Wait 5 minutes

The yeast should look like this: (if it doesn't, start over with new yeast)

Measure and add ingredients - and a good time to tell you how much I LOVE my kitchen scale. Measuring flour on a scale is really the only way to do it. It's a million times easier than counting out 5 cups of flour. (I also use the scale for brown sugar, sugar, butter, and more).

Once the bread was ready for rising #1...

It was time to make the cookies:

Pretty sure chocolate chips are the BEST part of the cookie:

Tempting not to eat the dough

While the batches of cookies were baking, I took a quick peak at the bread - almost half way there!

Three dozen cookies made, time to finish up the bread:

The bread is put on a floured surface (see my pastry scraper? Another favorite/essential tool). I cut it into four pieces and roll each piece into a long strand. I then place all the strands together into a...

...braid!

It rises for another hour (or less), and then gets an egg wash. A quick trip to the oven, and...

And of course a sink full of dishes...but those would have to wait until Saturday.


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