I've heard a few people say that they try to avoid using the oven when it gets to be too hot in the summer, but when it comes to baking, I consider the temperature outside to be mostly irrelevant. After all, yeast rises better when it's warm anyway!
I have a few go-to bread recipes, but lately I've been meaning to branch out and try new flavors and techniques. I started by making the Challah from Sarahbeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, and it turned out beautifully- it didn't even look real! When it came down to flavor and texture, however, I actually found myself missing my mom's simple "Braid-a-Bread" recipe. It's a similar plaited loaf, but it has a lighter crust, a softer, close-texture crumb, and it's topped off with a generous amount of sesame seeds. It's perfect for soaking up gravy or smothered in homemade raspberry jam. And it reminds me of home and big family dinners.
Makes 2 loaves
4. Knead for 5-8 minutes.
5. Turn dough into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles (about two hours).
6. Divide dough in half, then divide each half into thirds.
7. Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper.
8. On a lightly floured surface, roll each into a 16 inch rope. Place the ropes parallel on the baking sheet and braid, starting form the middle (Sarabeth suggests flipping the plait over when you're ready to start braiding in the other direction). Repeat for second loaf.
9. Cover and let rise to double (about 1 hour).
10. Set oven at 400 degrees. Just before baking, mix one egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and gently brush over the plaits. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
11. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
In other baking news, The Great British Baking Show is back for another season, and in the Bread Episode, the technical challenge was a plait with EIGHT STRANDS (!!!). That's an idea for "maybe someday," but the next time I heat up my house for some homemade bread, I'm sticking with what I know!