After an entire week of eating cured meat and other various pork-inspired foodstuffs, my inner Jew was feeling guilty and I needed to redeem myself. The best way to do this? Bake a Challah!!! I went to the grocery store, bought myself some onions, rosemary, and garlic to add to my bread in order to make a truly bold and aromatic loaf. I figure, if I’m going to take the time to make the thing, I may as well make the house smell good in the process.
I was afraid, very afraid, to make this bread because I am not yet comfortable with my kitchen here in Italy. First of all, while the apartment is large and beautiful, the kitchen appliances provided are out of the Stone Age… For example, In order to turn on my oven, it’s no easy flick of a switch, I have to pull a Sylvia Plath, sticking my entire head in the oven in order to put fire into a small hole in the furnace to start the heat…. yikes
Nonetheless, I added my ingredients, waited patiently for the bread to rise, and finally the dough was ready, braided, and prepared for the heat.
I love to bake, It calms me down, and the smells of fresh bread bring me internal peace… (Since when did I become so domestic?!)
Anyway, after it finished baking, which was a horrifying 45 minutes because I couldn’t tell if the oven was hot/cold/just right, my masterpiece was finished!!! And it turned out amaaaazinggggg. The house smells like Murray’s Bagels in New York City!! A scent I thought I would never experience in the country of Catholicism.
The recipe, my personal creation, is as follows:
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 red garlic cloves
2 tbsp Rosemary
4 cups type 0 flour
1/2 cup olive oil plus more for greasing
3 small eggs plus 1 for glaze
2 tbsp seasalt
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 1/3 cups water
1 package dry yeast
1)Combine yeast, warm water, and 1 tbsp sugar in a large bowl. Allow yeast to sit until it gets foamy.
2)Whisk in oil, remaining sugar, salt, and eggs (one at a time) into the yeast mixture.
3)Add onions, chopped garlic, and rosemary into flour mixture. Make sure these ingredients are well distributed.
4)Slowly add flour into the wet mix until the dough can be handled well enough for kneading
5)Knead dough until smooth on a floured surface
6)Place dough into a well greased bowl and cover with a warm towel. Leave in a dry cool place for at least an hour to allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size.
7)Punch down dough and let rise another half hour (meanwhile you might want to start up the oven 375 degrees because if you put bread into an oven that’s not hot its an absolute tragedy)
8)Braid dough (hopefully I don’t have to explain how to make a braid… It’s not exactly rocket science)
9)Use remaining egg to brush over the entire bread, make sure it is well covered in egg as this allows creates the sexy golden brown exterior..
10)Depending on your oven, 375 is usually the standard temp but it can be a little lower if your oven pan is black…watch the bread and see. Bake for roughly 45 minutes or until golden brown.
11)When your house smells like Judaism, your Challah is ready to eat….but let it cool a couple of minutes
I am going to eat my bread with a cup of coffee while watching Annie Hall… this is my tribute and attempt at repentance after a week of absolute blasphemy. Happy Channukah!