Good for the soul: Baking Bread

Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi

Baking bread has always been something I had great intentions of doing, but just never did. It always felt a bit complicated, or that I would need some kind of magic skill set that I just didn’t have. It’s a confusing part of myself, that creates these blocks that stand in the way of me doing stuff. It’s confusing because there is a whole other enormous part of me that is very happy to leap off into the unknown and have a go… whether that be zooming off to a new country for a few months, or applying for a new job in a completely different field to the one I’m currently in… The big stuff, I’m fine with. I have no fear of falling because I know I’ll bounce and can try again.

Nope, these funny road blocks are reserved for the much smaller (and weirdly, joyful) activities – baking bread, a new craft, learning about eye creams…something in me gets a bit spooked and I avoid, procrastinate and for all intense purposes, get a bit scared. I wonder what it all means…

Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Tala Indigo & Ivory Mixing Bowl

But I digress. Thanks to lockdown (look! A silver lining…) I am thrilled to announce that I can now bake bread. Not loads of bread. Just this bread. Challah. And specifically, Ottolenghi’s challah, whose recipe I found on The Guardian’s website. And it was not nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be.

Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Once measure out, I chuck all the ingredients into the KitchenAid mixer and let the bread hook do the hard work, for 8 minutes…
Tala-Flour-Sifter
Tala flour sifter
Tala-flour-sifter-1
Just squeeze the handle and it sifts the flour for you…
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Off to prove for the first time.
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Plait it, then leave to prove for a second time.
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Then, brush with egg and into the oven!

I feel it’s important that I tell you there has been some trial and error! Sometimes it works brilliantly and other times it didn’t… and I was left baffled because as far as I was concerned, I’d done everything exactly the same! But thanks to my baking pals (and they are SO CLEVER) on instagram, my questions were answered and I have learnt loads about proving, about yeast and about NOT slicing into the bread until it has cooled down. (Did you know this? I did not).

I took to instagram to ask for help when my bread wasn’t coming out the way I’d hoped – this is a convo between me and my lovely pal Louisa, who, if you love baking, is someone you should all follow.
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
This was one of my earlier attempts and I could see immediately that something wasn’t right as it hadn’t risen properly. Turns out my yeast was too old!
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
See? A bit flat and unhappy. This one was inedible and had to go in the bin. (Very disheartening after a five hour process!)

The lovely folk at Tala sent me some very handy bits and pieces for baking and the gorgeous blue bowl you see here is from them. If you are a keen baker or just love hanging out in the kitchen surrounded by gorgeous cookware and bakeware, then do definitely check out Tala – all their products have such a lovely retro feel that somehow give me total confidence in the kitchen!

Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
SO MUCH BETTER!
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Ta da! And it tasted divine.
Bake-Challah-Ottolenghi
Tala Indigo and Ivory range
Tala Indigo and Ivory range

This is the most delicious challah and extremely moreish. I’ve had to stop making it for a bit as we just eat the entire loaf and then need to lie down in a dark room for a while. Which is hard to do with a toddler.

So go forth and bake, my merry pals. And do so all tooled up with Tala’s amazing gaggle of bakery paraphernalia. It makes the whole experience even more lovely :)

Podcast, on. Oven, on.

Bake.

p.s. The link to the recipe above actually links to three different recipes – challah is the 2nd one down.

*Contains gifted items and affiliate links.


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One thought on “Good for the soul: Baking Bread

  1. I find kneeding bread really therapeutic – and pasta for that matter. I know you can use a food processor, but that’s not quite as good therapy!

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