Bread Bible Challa

This is the recipe I usually use for challa. I'm not a professional food blogger, so I'll spare you the life story. Some points I find helpful:
  1. Proofing in an oven dramatically speeds up the rise - from 90 minutes down to around 30. That is, if you oven has a bread proof or keep warm mode.
  2. The second rise (step 4; after all ingredients are added, but before baking) is optional. You can develop similar flavor by letting the sponge rise for extra time. As the recipe suggests at the bottom, you can even let the sponge (or the dough, if covered) rise in the fridge overnight to improve flavor.
  3. The recipe calls for one loaf, and suggests two as a variation. I suggest making three loaves - that makes a better serving size.
  4. The recipe calls for glazing twice - immediately after braiding, and just before baking. Once is plenty.
  5. The recipe suggests starting braids from the middle and working both ways. It's a little more difficult, but does yield much more symmetrical loaves.
  6. You can do either an egg or an oil wash - egg gives a shiny brown texture; oil has a matte color. If you use egg, you can decorate with poppy or sesame for extra crunch!

Without further ado:

Traditional Challah

(Bread Bible, pp 516)

Let there be cake!

The cake.
It's alive!

The cake.My girlfriend's birthday was a few weeks ago. Her 21st, to be exact. This was also the first birthday I'd be present for: she didn't celebrate anything the first year I knew her, the second year was in Germany, and this is the third year we've known each other. In the spirit of the occasion, I wanted to make sure she'd be happy with the party she had. 

Gingerbread Castle

You know gingerbread houses, of course. Smallish houses, covered in all sorts of candies and dripping in frosting. They're popular around Christmas (not that I celebrate that holiday...).

Recently, my family was getting together, and I decided to make something fancy out of gingerbread. After considering Serenity (too hard), I decided to make a castle. I threw the dough together, rolled it into 9x16 sheets, and baked it.

Helen and I drafted plans for the castle, and she figured out what shapes and sizes everything should be.

I made the corner pieces by wrapping slices of gingerbread around a 1" dowel as soon as the cookies came out of the oven. For the rest, I let the gingerbread sit overnight to stale, then sliced it into rectangles.

The castle was assembled with Royal icing, then set afloat in a sea of jello with Sweedish Sharks.