The day I forgot how to... (Daring Bakers May '12: Challah)

There is a lesson to be learned here today: There is no place in the kitchen for smugness.

Save it for the dining room.

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Challah? Braided breads? "Ha!" I thought to myself - "I've done this a gadzillion times; this is a no-brainer..."

Yeah, well. Not so much.

As I am sure anyone has spent some time in the kitchen is aware, that is the fatal blow to any kitchen endeavour. Cockiness.

I started along the path to make the honey challah.

It's just an enriched bread dough. No worries. No biggie.

Lovely riser, life is good.

And then, it is time to braid and shape.

This is where my smugness bit me in the rear.

I forgot how to braid.

Now, I have been braiding hair for a very long time.

I have braided many loaves of bread.

And as I stood there with those strands of dough in front of me, do you think I could braid the stinkin' bread for the life of me? No. I totally blanked.

Just that morning, I had braided the Runner Girl's hair into pigtails. But in that moment, my fingers and mind were not interacting.

Three times. Three times to finally get a passable braid on one loaf of bread. The second loaf - I gave up and made a turban (and destroyed any photographic evidence).

So, what should have been five minutes of shaping turned into almost an hour of teeth gnashing.

And one so-so shaped loaf of bread. And one that we won't talk about.

Fortunately, when it comes to food - as long as it tastes good, it doesn't have to be pretty.

This post participates in Daring Bakers. For links to the recipe for this month's challah challenge, visit The Daring Kitchen.


  1. Ha! I would've loved to have seen your turban loaf!

  2. Well, I'm impressed, Cher! I've never made anything like this, but since we can't find Challah here, it would be worthe a try!

  3. they do not always have to be pretty but your challah here looks more than pretty to me. great job!

  4. Looks ok to me - I commend you for going down the path in the first place :)

  5. Cher, Stop. That bread is gorgeous. And, it looks as if it tastes good. You obviously didn't "lapse" as much as you feared. My husband is Jewish so for the many, many Friday nights, before he got sick, that we celebrated the Shabbat, I fought to reserve and secure a loaf of Challah (don't pronounce the "c", I learned) from the only tiny Aspen bakery that would make it for us. I am determined to try bread baking now that I am back but, back then, no. Your bread looks better than any bakery bread that I purchased. And, French toast the next morning? Sublime. I think I would enjoy Daring Bakers - the French stew and this bread??? Wow.......

  6. Braiding hair and braiding bread are definitely not the same! I had a few moments of "what am I doing?" when braiding the dough and just had to let my fingers do the thinking... And you're right, no matter what, challah tastes amazing!

  7. It turned out wonderfully by the looks of it! Nice job, even if you did mind blank. :)

  8. Well it still looks delicious!

  9. Totally agree...if it tastes good who cares about the braid...but Cher your braids are perfect and you can proudly boast these photographs anywhere. Loved reading your write-up, could sense your feelings in your writing. I made 3 kinds ...and I'm not Jewish so any braid is good enough for me and like you said it tasted heaven ...and that's what mattered in the end.

  10. Your braid tuned out marvellous - such a wonderful colour. I had the same dilemma as you with the braiding - weird, huh.

  11. I think your bread looks beautiful, hardly a so so bread! the color is just beautiful and I am sure it tastes heavenly

  12. You baked an absolutely stunning bread - it looks wonderful and I am totally impressed! I have not braided bread in a while but I braided hair just this morning.

  13. Well, whatever you think, I say you're loaf looks pretty impressive - not to mention delicious.

  14. Your loaves look gorgeous! And I’m impressed with your bread baking skills!

  15. I think the braid looks great :-) ...as for the turban shaped one, just tell people that it's a braided knot!

  16. I made one of these with the Fresh from the Oven group. Looks great! I remember we were all so impressed with how well it turned out!


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