Snakes and Challah: not so biblical as it sounds Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Last night I decided to ride the bike path, and the weather was perfect. It was sunny but not overly warm, the quintessential spring day. The wind was brutal, and with this path it doesn't matter which way you are heading you are usually riding into the wind. It was so bad it was knocking 4 mph off my pace.
But with in the first few feet of getting onto the path I encountered this:
Yes, I had my camera and I took a picture of the pissed off snake that was on the side of the footbridge. The rest of the ride was spent scanning constantly for snakes in the path. I also could not stop thinking about that Six Feet Under where the hiker gets killed by the mountain lion that leaps off the ridge onto the path, I really think that could happen on this bike path or at least in my freaked out head it can.
And then a major douchbag riding one of those crazy small bikes (can someone explain those to me please?) had one pit bull on a leash and three off (so he clearly didn't have control of them). One started running along side of me growling and nipping at me. I pulled my legs up and yelled to the guy and he said the dog wouldn't bite but it didn't make me feel any better since I'd already had some of the dog's slobber on my leg (he didn't use teeth but it did freak me out a bit).
Goddamn motherfucking asshole.
Also since it is passover and I although I'm not a jew (I just play one on TV) I felt the need to make some Challah the other night. This is just the millionth loaf of bread in the baking bonanza that has been now been going on for several months.
It was buttery and delicious, but I think I'll try a different recipe next time. The one I found on CNN yesterday sounds much more traditional because I really felt odd about the lack of milk and only 2 eggs in this recipe. Also the recipe was specific to a bread machine, which I've never understood the purpose of. I love to knead bread and proof it in a bowl- why do I need a bulky machine to do it for me? WHY?
But still, it produced a golden loaf that was devoured by everyone.
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
Proof the yeast in a bowl with the honey and 1/4 cup of the water at about 105 degrees for 10 minutes until foamy and frothy. Do not overheat your water otherwise it will kill the yeast and you will have flat bread.
Place remaining water, salt, honey, eggs, melted butter, flour and proofed yeast into a bowl and mix well. Make sure the butter again isn't boiling because yeast death can still occur.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it develops that firm elasticity that properly worked dough attains. The skin should be firm and smooth.
Place the dough in greased bowl and cover. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Roughly punch it down (this is my favorite part), and divide into three equal sized balls. Roll these balls into long snake-like tubes, sort of hold them together at one end and braid them. At the end of the braid tuck the ends under so it looks pretty, now go back up to the top of the braid and braid it upwards and tuck those ends under. You don't have to do this last bit but it makes the loaf look more finished, and I love nothing better than a perfect presentation.
Place the dough on a cookie sheet that has a greased parchment on it. Cover and let rise again (about another hour, or until doubled in size). Mix one egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over the risen surface, be generous with the egg wash since this is what gives the loaf it's lovely shiny, brown exterior.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes. Bread is done when the crust is golden brown. This time my oven hit it spot on at 40 minutes.