Today, in hopes of countering the whole “getting fat” part of this food blogging journey that I am on, I signed up for Pat’s Run. It’s a 4.2 mile run in April. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it is! My friend Jill is my hero! She’s a runner who seems to be doing half marathons all the time. Back in September she told me that I could be a runner too, she even sent me a running schedule to do for a half marathon. At first I thought she was crazy. How could I possibly run a mile, let alone 13.1!? But now I think I finally believe her. I’m determined to become a runner, and hopefully Pat’s Run will be the first of many races. Now, I know it’s only 4.2 miles, but everyone has to start somewhere right?
Just like with this bread. I knew one day I’d have to tackle my fear of working with yeast and making a loaf of bread. Thankfully, I found a recipe that didn’t seem too complicated and had a pretty presentation (it’s braided). So the first loaf of bread I ever baked was Challah bread for this past Christmas. My fears of working with yeast quickly faded away as soon as I smelled the dough. I absolutely LOVE the smell of yeast and fresh dough. Oh my gosh it’s like heaven on earth – I swear. But something I love even more than the smell of fresh dough, is the smell of a fresh loaf of bread coming out of the oven. I made it this past weekend for a Valentine’s Day picnic I had with my boyfriend, Alex.
It’s slightly sweet and absolutely delicious fresh from the oven with butter on it. Plus there is something about making a loaf of bread from scratch that is so satisfying; it will make you feel so accomplished. So go. Make it. I promise it will be the most satisfying thing you do this week.
(Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)
4 ¾ to 5 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 ¼ cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons poppy seeds, optional
In a large mixing bowl stir together 2 cups flour with the package of active dry yeast and set it aside. In a medium sauce pan heat the sugar, butter, salt, and water together just until they are warm (120F – 130F) and the butter is almost melted. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on low speed for thirty seconds. Add both eggs, one at a time. Beat on high speed for three minutes. Using a dough hook, or a wooden spoon, stir in as much o the remaining flour.
Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface and kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). While kneading add in remaining flour by the tablespoon.* Shape the dough into a ball. Place dough into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size – about one hour.
Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into thirds. Cover the thirds, and let rest for another 10 minutes.
Roll each third into an 18 inch rope. Place ropes on a large baking sheet one inch apart and braid the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for thirty minutes. Combine the egg yolk with the two teaspoons of water. Brush egg mixture over the entire braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.
Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes. When the bread is done it will sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread from baking sheet and cool it on a wire rack.
*You may not use all of the flour. It's most important that the dough be elastic, not that you use all 5 1/4 cups of flour.