food Friday parallel play edition
I suppose if I lived in a little village in Eastern Europe like my great grandmothers did, if I wanted to check out the challah my friends and neighbors were baking I would just walk down the street and stop by their kitchen to poke my head into their kitchens and we would compare techniques and results.
But in some ways living in 2017 makes that friendly head poking into kitchens even easier. My friend Alan Divack is a serious cook and baker. Every week he posts his newest batch of challot on Facebook. Alan, unlike me is an analytic cook.
Often on Shabbat morning in shul we will compare the results of our challah baking of the previous day.
Lately, rather than just pulling the challah dough into 4 thick strands for baking, I have been rolling out the dough into a big rectangle,
which get rolled even thinner and then I loop one around the other and braid.
The move from two individual strands to twisting one around the other and braising is hard to explain in words but easy to actually do.
As I drank my coffee this morning I read Alan's description on Facebook of how the structure of the challah dough changes when he rolls out his dough and then rolls the rectangle into a tight roll. as Alan wrote:
In the challah lineage that I follow, rather than just stretching the dough out into strands, you roll it into an oblong and then roll it up into a tight long strand. This both improves the texture of the final bread, giving it a wonderful long crumb , and makes it a whole lot more work
I have been thinking about how the physical structure of the dough is somehow both different and better when it is rolled like a jelly roll into the strands for braiding.
I wasn't able to put words to that difference, but my pal in the kitchen down the road, (actually uptown about a mile) did.
I love baking (virtually) alongside my friend Alan. We have also enjoyed eating each other's challot in real life.