Over the past several years, I have been experimenting with baking my own bread. It started because I have grandiose visions of being Martha Stewart, but I've discovered that it's not that difficult and the result is a heckuva lot tastier than the sliced stuff you can buy at the supermarket. I hate being the sort of person who says this, but I find I can't eat the store bought stuff anymore because I can now taste the preservatives. (It's hard for me to admit that because I have found myself wanting to force feed Dairy Queen to new converts to non-sugar diets who spend their time proclaiming "Even grapes are too sweet for me now!" So if you sit me down with a package of Wonder Bread and tell me I can't leave the table until I'm done, I'll understand.)
The final frontier in bread-baking, however, is the ever-elusive Challah. Before I even started my road to sandwich bread snobbery, I tried and failed numerous times to get this delicious egg bread right. As of earlier this year, I found a recipe that resulted in a beautiful loaf of hockey puck:
I probably should have realized that this was not the Challah that would become family legend to my children and grandchildren. The recipe came from the last page of Sammy Spider's First Shabbat, a children's book that details the adventures of a young Jewish spider enjoying Shabbat with his family. (Sammy, by the way, is quite the busy Jewish arachnid. You can also read about his first Hannukah, his first Passover, his first Simchat Torah, his first Tu B'Shevat, and on through the holidays, both well-known and obscure. It's a lot of adventures for a creature that is, in fact, trayf.) In any case, I've never known spiders to be the bakers of the insect/animal/whatever spiders are that aren't technically insects world, so I should not have been surprised when the Challah turned out the be basically inedible both times I made the recipe.
But, I was bound and determined to find a good recipe that's not too difficult. I turned, as one so often does, to the internet. Allrecipes.com turned out to once again provide me with the culinary answer to a question I have been asking for years. (Next time I'm looking for a recipe, I'm going to skip all that backing and forthing with spider cooks and just go straight to the Allrecipe source).
I wish I could show you a picture of the beautiful Challah I created, but this happened to one of the two loaves I made before I had a chance to grab a camera:
I know who is responsible:
LO (and his agent J) had a little something to do with that "slight nibble" from one end of the loaf.
Normally, this would be no problem, as I made two loaves, thus doubling the chance that I could take a beautiful picture. Unfortunately, the other one seems to be Jabba the Challah:
(If I had real computer skillz, I would have photoshopped a gold-bikini clad cinnamon bun chained to the bread into this picture, but I'm afraid you'll just have to use your imagination).
Thankfully, despite this loaf's uncanny resemblance to an evil Star Wars character, I suspect it will still taste pretty darn good. I just hope it survives until Friday night. We're nearly finished eating the pretty one and there's still 24 hours to go until Shabbat. Jabba, indeed.