This week, the group at 'TWD : Baking with Julia' decided to bake Challah. Challah, for those not in the know, is a special Jewish braided bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays. But, for me, Challah is one of the most beautiful looking breads in the bread basket. If the sourdough exudes the rustic and rugged charm of a country guy, the challah is the slick, city boy in comparison. It is glossy, golden brown, beautifully braided and speckled with seeds, making it one impressive looking loaf. It's a different matter that yours truly couldn't even manage to braid the loaf in a straight line!!
And why won't it be good looking?! The dough is enriched with milk, butter and eggs that ensures that only do you get that beautiful colour but also that the bread is rich and beyond delicious. Even the seeds on top add to the taste and overall appeal of this bread. The golden brown, glossy crust hides a soft, slightly sweet crumb that just cannot disappoint anyone.
The bread is beautiful, just eaten by itself, straight out of the oven. But, every challah recipe will recommend that this bread is excellent to make French toast. Now, that's an idea that will always find favour. Who doesn't like that sweet, fried, eggy bread that comes with a memory all the way from your childhood Sunday mornings??
But, because I put in all that effort to make the Challah, this wasn't going to be any, ordinary French toast. I thought I'd make things interesting with Nigella's recipe for Orange French toast that adds orange zest to the egg mixture and is then served with an orange marmalade syrup.
The citrus hit gives the French toast a zingy freshness and the slightly bitter undertones of the marmalade ensures that things don't get too sweet. The syrup hardly takes a few minutes, so, there is no elaborate prep required. I used challah and homemade marmalade but regular white bread and shop bought marmalade would do the trick equally well. It is such a small twist to your regular French toast and yet, the end result is the perfect indulgence for a lazy, weekend morning. All that's left to do is wash it all down with a cup of coffee!!
This weekend, I'll leave you with words of one of the most inspirational men of our times, "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." Rest in Peace, Nelson 'Madiba' Mandela!
Orange Marmalade French Toast
Adapted from the recipe from 'Nigella.com'.
- 2 eggs
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 60 mls milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large, thick slices bread or 4 smaller slices (I used challah bread, recipe given below)
- Juice of I orange
- 3 tablespoon orange marmalade (homemade or shop bought)
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Whisk the eggs, orange zest, milk and ground cinnamon in a wide shallow dish.
- Soak the bread slices in this mixture for 2 minutes a side.
- While the eggy bread is soaking, bring the orange juice, marmalade and sugar to the boil in a saucepan, then turn down the heat to a fast simmer for 3-4 minutes. If you need to, let this syrup stand while you cook the bread.
- Heat the butter in a heavy-based frying pan and cook the eggy bread for about 2 minutes a side over a medium heat until golden.
- Serve the French toast with some of the amber syrup poured over each slice, and a jug of extra syrup on the side.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 110°F)
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus a pinch
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 extra-large egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water/cream, for glazing
- About 6 cups bread flour
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water with the pinch of sugar and let stand until creamy and starting to bubble. In a medium saucepan, combine the sliced butter and the milk. Warm over low heat just until the butter melts. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and the honey and salt. Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl and stir in the dissolved yeast and the 4 eggs.
- Brush a large bowl with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Transfer the dough to the buttered bowl and brush the top with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough, then cover and let rise until doubled in bulk again, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with cornmeal. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half. Cover one half with plastic wrap and divide the other half into 3 equal pieces. Using lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a 16-inch-long rope with tapered ends.
- Arrange the 3 ropes side by side pointing toward you and just touching. Starting in the middle and working toward your body, braid the ropes together, bringing the outside ropes over the centre one. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck them under. Turn the loaf around and repeat with the other half, this time braiding the outer ropes under the centre one. Seal the ends, tuck them under and transfer the loaf to a prepared baking sheet; gently plump the loaf with your hands. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the loaves with kitchen towels and let rise for 35 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with the egg glaze. Let stand uncovered for 10 minutes, then brush again with the glaze. Bake the loaves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the pans halfway through baking, for 35 to 45 minutes, or until they are golden, feel light when lifted and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Loosely cover the loaves with foil if they become too brown during baking. Transfer to a rack and let cool thoroughly before slicing.