Community and Challah

by Janice on June 22, 2009

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Every week, I’m amazed at the mystery held within the new dough.   It’s not that I can’t imagine the end result, given the list of ingredients, it’s just that bread-making is so much more than the sum of those ingredients.  It’s the temperature, the humidity, the baker’s hand.  Will I feel it?  Will I know the moment that the right amount of flour has been added?  Without adding too much?  It’s such a gift to take precious time to practice this form of edible art and science.

Someone asked me to quantify my learning so far.  On a scale of confidence about baking bread, from 1 to 10, where did you start at the beginning of the BBA Challenge, and where are you now, after 5 weeks?  I said that I started at about 6 and I’m at a 9.5.  Wow.  One book, by an amazing teacher.  One woman sending out a tweet.  A commitment by over 200 bakers all over the world to form a community.  Pounds of flour.  Hundreds of blog entries and flicker photos, thousands of comments, unlimited support.  A quantum leap in terms of bread baking confidence and knowledge.

Last week’s bread was Challah, a bread that holds many symbols of God’s goodness for the Jewish community.  I’m not sure I‘ve ever tasted it, prior to baking it.  I found it to be an easy dough.  I’ve never braided bread, so I was a little nervous.  There was no need – it handled very easily and looked gorgeous.

Some of my BBA Challenge friends found it to be less rich and less sweet than other recipes they had made.  I had nothing to compare it to, but was relieved to have a plain bread, after a few weeks of richness.  Only bread flour, a little sugar, a little vegetable oil, salt, yeast, eggs, and water.  (No butter!)  I made half into a braided loaf and half into hamburger buns, and we loved it all.   I’ll make this bread again, and will likely also try other versions suggested by the group.  To celebrate goodness in the form of the BBA challenge community, of course.

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