Stirring it up:
Bread making took off in a big way during Covid when all of us were confined to our homes and trying to emulate bakeries. Be it Beer Bread, Irish Soda Bread or Cottage Cheese Buns, the love for baking as been reignited. In this blog I share a recipe for Challah Bread, aka Egg Bread, and a bakery that started 90 years ago.
Challah Bread (aka Braided Egg Bread)
Hard to say! It very much depends on how you decide to shape the dough. Bakeries make two loves with this recipe, I made three 8” (20cm) bâtards (slightly chubby, oblong, unbraided bread loaves).
35-40 minutes or until golden and slightly hollow sounding when tapped.
Ingredients: Starter dough
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- Mix and let sit in a bowl in a warm place for 45 minutes
- 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flou
- 1¾ tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 additional egg for an egg wash
- Mix the starter ingredients together and let sit for 45 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 375 F.
- Mix the starter with the rest of the ingredients, aside from the egg set aside for the egg wash.
- Knead dough until no longer sticky (about seven minutes in a stand mixer)
- Let the dough sit covered and in a warm place for about an hour, or until it doubles in size.
- Shape or braid the dough as you wish.
- Coat the top of the dough with the egg wash, mixed with a little bit of water.
- If you want, sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top of the dough.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let it cool a bit before you cut it, or you’ll squash it whilst cutting. It tastes better unsquashed – oh and with some Vermont produced Cabot butter!
Dishing it out:
Bakeries are found in many towns both large and small. Do you have a favourite bakery where you buy your specialty baked goods? These are my top three bakeries and they are on two different continents.
The above recipe is from The Rideau Bakery, in Ottawa, Ontario, which provided kosher breads, doughnuts, and pastries starting in the 1930s.
With business and health concerns at the forefront and no buyer in sight, it was a sad day when the owners decided to close this landmark business.
Chllah bread, rugelach, hamantaschen, iced doughnuts, chocolate Babka and many other pastries filled the glass cases every day. Walking into one of their two locations was a treat for the senses especially when walking out with a small paper bag with goodies, for me, usually containing rugelach.
While living in France, my favourite shop was, without a doubt, our local patisserie/boulangerie on the main street in L’Etang la Ville.
A patisserie crafts pastries, cakes and the like while a bead is created in a boulangerie. Often they are separate
A boulangerie is a mainstay in French villages, towns and large city neighborhoods. Bread is baked fresh every morning, purchased fresh for breakfast and picked up on the way home from work for the evening meal.
Bakeries have racks or baskets filled with baguette and the shelves lined with bâtard and a variety of other breads, it’s a sight to behold.
The cases of exquisite French pastries beautifully glazed and embellished with fruit, nuts or chocolate were so very tantalizing. Often displayed in the front window and positioned just inside the bakery door, it is very hard to resist purchasing one. I could never resist.
Éclair, Madeleine, kouign-amann, macaron, palmier, pain au chocolate, and so many more, each one beckoning to me. “Un de chaque s’il vouz plait!” But no, that would spoil the fun of trying to decide which culinary delight to enjoy.
I can almost smell the aroma from that little boulangerie bakery from here in Vermont. While a trip to France may not be in your future, perhaps a trip to Vermont is.
Here in Vermont, The Red Hen Bakery in nearby Middlesex, is my favourite, it takes bakeries to another level. As noted on their website, they are “guided by the belief that pure, uncomplicated ingredients and the hands of skilled artisans are the building blocks for great food”. The vast majority of the products they use are locally produced and the taste of the products is a testament to this. 430,000 pounds of local wheat go into their bread each year and each day, 2200 crusty loaves of bread are hand made.
The Red Hen Bakery/café is a favorite of locals and visitors alike who not only stop in for a delightful loaf of bread but perhaps a coffee and something sweet as well.
While the breadline the shelves, Danish pastries, fruit scones, macaroons dipped in chocolate, sweet and crispy palmier, and of course, golden-brown croissant are enticingly displayed along with other sweet treats.
Always fun to choose a bowl of one of their daily soup specials along with a thick slice of bread and a pastry and settle down for a bite of lunch.
Wherever you live or wherever travels take you, look for the nearest local bakery and treat yourself!
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