Our son, Peter, is one of the bakers of the family. It was he who learned to make biscuits at his grandmother’s side. He also built a brick-lined oven in the kitchen stove, to the consternation of his wife, René. Peter and René and their two daughters visited for a few days from the Bay Area. The girls brought a candle, paperweight, and some art work that they had made. Peter brought a beautiful loaf of challah from a batch of twelve loaves that he had made as holiday gifts for friends and neighbors. It was a beautiful loaf, lightly golden and topped with sesame seeds. I use the term, “was” because it disappeared the first morning, toasted and buttered, along with a cup of tea or coffee. None was left for the excellent French toast it would make. René spent some of her time working on my pronunciation “challah”. Peter says his recipe came from Baking with Julia, Dorie Greenspan, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1996, p 93. The book is the companion of the television show of the same name. The TV baker and recipe author was Lauren Groveman, a cookbook author and life coach. This is my edited version of that recipe.
FOR THE BREAD
- 1½ tablespoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup tepid water
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2½ teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs
- 6½ cups all-purpose flour, measured and set aside
- melted butter
FOR THE GLAZE
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- sesame seeds
- coarse salt
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the tepid water. Be sure the water is not so hot as to kill the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the butter and milk. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, honey, and salt. Stir with a large wooden spoon until completely mixed and the sugar and salt are dissolved. Cool if necessary until it is just warm to the touch. (No more than 110°F)
- Stir in the dissolved yeast and the eggs. Then add flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to completely incorporate the flour before the next addition. When you have stirred in about 5 cups of flour and the dough is getting too stiff to stir, turn the dough out on a work surface covered with the remaining flour. Knead for at least 10 minutes until most of the flour is incorporated and the dough no longer sticks to your hands or work surface and is smooth and elastic.
- Wash, dry, and grease the mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball, brush with melted butter, and transfer to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place in the kitchen to rise until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours. When the dough has risen, punch down, cover again, and let rise a second time until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Deflate the twice-risen dough and cut in half, setting one half aside, covered, while you work with the other half.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 16 inches long, thicker in the middle and tapered at each end. Align the three ropes together. Working from the center, braid the three ropes together, tucking the ends underneath when you have finished the braiding. Turn the loaf around and, again working from the center, braid the three ropes together, tucking the ends underneath the loaf when you are finished.
- Repeat the braiding process with the second half of the dough.
- Transfer the loaves to two baking sheets lined with parchment or a silpat. Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes or until nearly doubled.
- While the loaves are rising, whisk the egg, egg yolk and water together, forcing the mixture through a sieve so that it is smooth. Brush the tops of the risen loaves with the mixture; let the loaves sit for 5 minutes; and brush again. Sprinkle the glazed loaves with sesame seeds and coarse salt.
- Bake the loaves in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for 20 minutes. Brush the loaves with glaze and continue to bake for 20 more minutes or until browned and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
- Transfer to a baking rack and cool completely.
Filed under Food, Recipes
Things just came together. Our range and oven have been out of service for over two weeks while we await a back-ordered replacement computer board. We have been relying on ancillary kitchen appliances: the microwave, an induction plate that I bought, a George Forman grill, etc. We had not yet used our waffle iron, so it was time. Peter and René had brought us a bottle of Canadian maple syrup from a recent visit to Montreal. Finally, the cupboard was nearly bare as I had been putting off going to the grocery store. A waffle supper with fried eggs done on the induction plate, bacon cooked in the microwave, and waffles in the iron seemed obvious.
This is an old family recipe. Carol made these many years ago for a family gathering in Santa Fe. The waffles were so good that I asked her to contribute the recipe to the family cook book. She called them the best ever, so I titled the recipe, “Carol’s Best-Ever Raised Waffles”.
Actually, the recipe is not original. It came from Marion Cunningham’s masterful revision of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Since then the recipe has been reprinted countless times, often verbatim, and including the internet sites, Epicurious and Food52. Most of the internet reviews are glowing, with some notable exceptions. One writer said that the waffles were so limp and tasteless that she threw the remaining batter down the disposal. While it is true that the waffles will not be as crisp as what you might be used to, my hunch is that she used bad yeast or forgot to add the eggs in the morning or something. Other writers substituted oil for melted butter, vanilla-flavored almond milk for milk. or gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. Some complained that the batter was too thin and added ¾ cup of flour. You could do any or all of those things, but then you would have a different recipe and a different waffle.
If you follow the recipe as written, you will wind up with a waffle that has the yeasty aroma of a French boulangerie, the taste of a fresh sweet roll straight from the oven, and a lightness that absorbs the unctuous flavors of added melted butter and maple syrup. My latest effort resulted in waffles just as I remembered them from Carol’s introduction years ago. Keep in mind that if you plan on breakfast waffles, you need to start the night before; if you plan on a waffle supper, start in the morning.
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 package dry yeast
- 2 cups warm milk
- ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
- Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer until smooth and blended.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature over night or all day. The batter should rise to about double its volume.
- Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs and baking soda, stirring until well mixed. The batter will be very thin.
- Pour ½ to ¾ cups of batter into each mold of a very hot waffle iron. Bake the waffles until they are golden and crisp. Serve immediately or cool on a baking rack to prevent then from getting soggy.
Peter is our family outdoorsman, and his wife, René, and their two girls also enjoy the outdoors. Several weeks ago they camped out on their trip to Alaska, and the girls gathered dried yak chips for the fire. That’s tough!
This last holiday weekend they camped out on a friend’s land on the Klamath River. They canoed and went fishing. The result of that adventure was three big salmon that Peter plans to grill.
We are babysitting our two youngest grandchildren, ages 4 and 2 while their parents are at a cooking demonstration in Hawaii. We’re just up the road from Peter and family, so we have been invited to the feast. We agreed to bring dessert and a side dish. Small price to pay for the chance to eat fresh, hand-caught salmon.
Peter and René are in the middle of a massive home renovation, so the salmon sat in a cooler on ice and dry ice in the middle of their kitchen. René made one of her famous salads. We cheated and stopped at Bianchini’s Market for corn-mango-jicama salsa, three-bean salad, a loaf of Acme sweet batard, and some wine.
Dessert turned out to be an apple tart from Schubert’s Bakery on Clement Street in the Richmond district of San Francisco. It was hard to chose from all of the beautiful cakes, tarts, and pastries. Even picky eaters liked it.
We ate in the front yard al fresco as there is no dining room in the house right now. It was just as well. The temperatures in the Bay Area are breaking all records – in the 90s – so everyone does as much as they can outdoors. Baker Beach is jammed.
The kids played in the front yard as we enjoyed a glass of wine and the delicious put together meal.
Salmon cut into serving-sized portions
Freshly caught salmon iced in a cooler
The fisherman with his catch
Salmon ready to eat
An extemporaneous al fresco meal
Baked Salmon with Parsley and Garlic
- fresh salmon
- olive oil
- melted butter
- chopped parsley
- minced garlic
- fresh lemon juice
- Cut the salmon into 3 ounce serving pieces. Remove skin and bones.
- Baste with oil and melted butter. Top with parsley, garlic and lemon juice. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 400º F for 20 minutes. Serve while still hot.