Bread 5: Chop Suey Bread and Challah

2006-02-13

Chop Suey BreadWe started Saturday's class by preparing chop suey bread. Fortunately, the bread did not contain assorted vegetables; rather, it was a yeasted fruit and nut loaf. The ingredients included eggs and sugar, and the cinnamon gave the kneaded dough a tan colour. After a period of resting, we combined eggs, mixed fruit, raisins and walnuts together, then poured this mixture on top of the pressed out dough. Then the fun began: we folded the dough over and used our bench scraper to hack up the mess into small pieces. I took handfuls of this wet mixture and scaled them into greased disposable loaf pans. During baking, the pieces grew into each other and formed a solid loaf. My partner drizzled fondant over top to complete this unusual bread.

ChallahFor the challah, we mixed up a very tacky dough that clung to the bowl, the hook and the table. Mindful of Chef's instructions to use as little flour as possible, we managed to round it up and let it rest. After scaling into four large pieces, we divided the dough portions into four then rolled them out into long strands. This took a while as we had to let the dough relax in order to stretch it into a thin strand. Using a handout as our guide, we braided the four strands together. I found it difficult to get an even braid. A lot seems to depend on the length and uniformity of the strands (mine lacked both). After two egg washes (before and after proofing in the bread sauna), we baked them. There was a bit of excitement when they came out of the oven: one pair's loaves turned out pasty white and didn't rise at all. Chef took one look and dumped them into the waste food bin. We all spent some time discussing what might be the cause since the partners claimed to have scaled everything correctly.

The chop suey bread was quite tasty, good for a snack. Chef cautioned us not to toast the slices, something about starting a fire. But I was very disappointed with the egg bread. The challahs I've made in the past were eggy and rich, but our loaves were very bland with no egginess and had that annoying yeasty taste. The version in Baking With Julia may not be pareve (the recipe includes butter and milk), but it makes a wonderful egg bread. I'll stick to that one.

Update: Here's the chop suey bread recipe.

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