One of my ex friends (yes, you can have ex friends, just like you can have ex boyfriends) once accused me of only posting recipes that work out. Seriously? Yes. It's true: most of the posts here are recipes for successful dishes that I've created. Why? Because most of the time I'm able to take the things in my refrigerator and pantry and compose pretty good meals using them.
Also, if my recipes don't work out, don't photograph well, or are just lackluster, why would you want to read about them. Or would you?
And with these random thoughts going through my head, I decided to tell you a tale of Challah Disaster.
Last week was the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana (New Year). I celebrated by eating apples and honey because I'm more of a cultural Jew (as opposed to a religious one) and chose to go spinning at the gym rather than attend services.
During the day, however, I was engrossed in reading Anna's tweets and Facebook updates about an apple/honey challah she was baking all the way in Seattle. As often is the case, I wanted to follow in Anna's footsteps (after all, she is older by 30 minutes!!!) and make challah.
I saw a recipe from Epicurious someone tweeted and decided to give it a try. What made this recipe special to me, was that it supposedly came from a little town in Ukraine named Chernovtsy (the spelling varies quite a bit), the same town where my dad was born and spent the first 18 years of his life! How could I go wrong with that?
Oh, let me count the ways.
1) The recipe required quite a bit of time in between the steps for the dough to rise and was supposed to produce 3 loaves of bread. No thank you! First, I decided to separate the steps between the two days and also to cut the recipe in half.
2) Did I mention the dough did not rise? It did not: not at all. There are a few reasons that I can think of:
* the yeast was old even though it should not have expired till 2011
* the water I used was too hot or not warm enough
* I used "pizza" yeast instead of a regular variety: I just assumed they'd work the sameAnd so what happened?
Well, last Friday I took out the braided uncooked challah from my refrigerator where it's been sitting over night. I let it hang out in 200 degree oven for 2 hours to see if it would magically rise, and then when it did not happen, I decided I had nothing to lose and baked the challah. (This is one long sentence.)
My apartment smelled amazing. And yes, the challah looked relatively pretty, but it was too dense, chewy, and completely unappetizing, save for the raisins I added to the dough.
See, from time to time, I do make food that goes directly into garbage. This challah was not worth saving for either Challah French Toast or Challah Bread Pudding.