Boredom Buster: Mini-challah breads
It snowed here last week. And this week. Next week? Yup, snow in the forecast. My kids love to play outside, but with chillier temperatures, they’re not begging to go out anymore like they did when the first snowflakes came.
That’s okay. I find that wintery temperatures make the perfect excuse to start baking. Lately, I’ve been trying to involve my kids more with what I’m cooking up. That’s led to some fun discoveries–and my our current fascination with making things in miniature.
As a child, my favorite bread my mom would make was challah. I still remember watching her carefully braid three thick pieces of the eggy dough into a large loaf. My job? Topper. I would decide whether we would sprinkle the dough with poppy seeds or sesame seeds after my mom brushed the bread with an egg wash, just before she popped it into the oven.
The loaf always came out massive.
On a whim, I thought I’d refashion mom’s challah bread using my favorite roll recipe, letting my kids do the braiding. With only one egg in the batter, my roll recipe doesn’t carry quite the heft of a regular challah recipe, but I think it probably makes creating miniature versions a little easier with the more elastic dough.
I’m including my roll recipe, along with the tweaks below:
Prep time: 45 minutes + 1.5 hours rising/baking
Yield: 16 rolls
½ cup milk
1 stick butter or margarine
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 package yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons)
½ cup warm water
31/2-4 cups flour
- Place the warm water in a measuring cup and whisk in the yeast. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes and check that some bubbles appear on the surface (meaning the yeast is active).
- Over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. As soon as bubbles appear, move the pan off of the heat and add the butter, salt, and sugar. Whisk until smooth and melted in. Cool to room temperature.
- Add the yeast mixture to the buttered milk in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer to combine the ingredients, add the flour in 1 cup increments. The dough should start holding together after 3 cups. Stir in ½ to 1 cup more until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl.
- Sprinkle flour on a cutting board and place the dough ball onto the board. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball.
- Clean out the mixing bowl using warm water, then coat with cooking spray. Place the dough into the bowl and cover loosely with a lightly dampened cloth.
- Place in a warm place for 1 hour to rise. The dough won’t rise significantly.
- Divide the dough in two.
- On a floured work surface, knead one dough ball until smooth. Roll out to an 8-inch rectangle.
- Using a pizza cutter, slash into 4 equal pieces, working lengthwise.
- Cut each of the 4 pieces into 3 long pieces (again, lengthwise).
- Press the three pieces together at the top end, loosely braid the dough pieces. tuck the end pieces into the bottom part of the loaf.
- Place the formed dough onto a baking pan lightly coated with spray. Cover the roll with the slightly moist kitchen cloth.
- Repeat the process with the remaining dough slices and then with the other dough ball. You should have 8 mini-loaves in all.
- Let the formed dough rise again for 30 minutes. DO NOT allow the dough to go over that time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until loaves are just browned. You can also whisk an egg, add 1 teaspoon water, and then coat each roll with the glaze before baking to give each roll a shiny appearance.
Looking for more ideas about what to do with your family when the blahs set in after too many days stuck inside? Check out these boredom busters on Motherboard. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates.
What about your crew? Have you found creative ways to avoid cabin fever?