Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rise! Rise!

Here are the photos I had hoped to share with you yesterday.

Life is filled with many rituals for all of us. And no matter the source, once one has embraced the ritual it becomes an essential part of life. For the Observant Jew there are many, many, many rituals.

Shabbos rituals include, but are not limited to, lighting candles at a predetermined time BEFORE sunset, Kiddush, Washing for Bread and making the HaMotzi Blessing for Bread. The bread usually eaten is called Challah, which I have referred to in this blog quite often. While many people buy their challah's each week, I prefer to make my own. Even (or perhaps especially) when I know I will be a guest.

Making challah connects me to Jewish women throughout the ages and helps me feel part of Shabbos. As a single woman living in a family-centric community, I often feel on the fringe. Making challah helps me bridge a gap that, more often than not, resembles a chasm. Taking challah refers to the mitzvah of setting aside a piece of dough from the batch, an act which helps elevate the physical to the spiritual. It reminds me that there is more going on than I may see at the moment. That faith is just as sustaining as bread.

As a crafter and perfectionist, looks and taste count a great deal too. Since I left Jerusalem all challah has been made without the help of a mixer. I have a recipe that I quite like, but continue to work towards getting a fluffier, higher rising challah. In the words of a good friend, "Rise! Rise!" Using good pans would help, and they are on a wish list that I keep filed in that certain part of my brain.

While many people prefer a traditional challah, there are those near and dear who want their whole wheat. Two weeks ago I adapted my basic recipe and was quite pleased with the results, taste wise. Still I craved a more artistic solution. So last week I set about making two small batches (totaling only half a recipe) and then braided the separate doughs together.

I made a couple of medium size loaves,

and half a dozen rolls.

The rolls, in their confined space, rose quite nicely. Since I am using "White Whole Wheat" in order to get a finer texture, there is a bit of trade off in the color. The whole wheat section actually gets lighter when baked.

Don't be fooled by this tiny roll, it was only half the size of the others to begin with.

But it really does taste good. Proof? Finding NNR eating the left over roll on Sunday morning!

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