The scent of dough rising in the kitchen can create so many associations. It can bring us back to the bakeries we frequented as children, holding on to our mothers’ hands, and eating the sprinkle cookie given to us by the woman behind the counter. It can remind us of a flour covered apron worn by a grandmother making Challah. My own mother would make blueberry buns from blueberries that I was sent out to collect with my sister near my aunt’s house in Lakewood, New Jersey. There is something special about working with yeast, it has that distinctive lifelike quality and scent, always recognizable, like an old friend in the kitchen. My husband has recently started making home-made bagels, hazelnut flutes and artisanal French breads. They are wonderful, wheaty, warm and yeasty.
January, even in California, is a perfect time to bake. A warm kitchen is so inviting so go ahead and create a memory that your children will cherish. The scent of yeast.
Here is my tried and true recipe for challah. Be creative and add some dried cranberries, some chocolate chips, some dried figs or dates and most of all, have fun.
½ cup oil
3 tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
½ cup cold water
2 pkgs dried yeast
1/3 cup warm water
7-8 cups all purpose flour
Put oil, salt and sugar in large bowl, add 1 cup boiling water and stir till sugar is dissolved. Then add ½ cup cold water and stir. Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water along with a pinch of sugar and proof for several minutes till bubbly. In a small bowl beat 3 eggs and add to cooled oil mixture. Then add yeast and stir. Add 7 cups of flour, one at a time, and stir after each cup. Put dough on floured board and knead for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Put in oiled bowl and let rise until double, about two hours. Punch down and knead gently for several minutes. Divide and make 2 large challahs or four medium sized. Let stand 45 minutes.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until brown.