My Challah Baking Story: The Truth Unveiled

 

Guest post by Mariel Slater

Let me tell the “real story” of the Challah versus Striezel bake-off with Pam.

Pam started baking. She got really into it very quick. She is talking about baking all the time and when we get together with friends she often brings bread. I think great. I can get Pam to easily bake me some challah and she will like it as it will be a new and interesting bread for her to bake and in turn I will get me some challah.

Mariel: I WANT CHALLAH
I WANT CHALLAH

I start by mentioning challah every time she talks about bread (did I mention that she talks about bread a lot?). I say, “Pam make me challah”. I say, “Pam please next time make me some challah.” I say, “Pam would you just get on with the challah making?”

No challah.

Finally Pam says, “Mariel come over and we can make challah together.” Hmmm I think. I am crap at making bread but this might turn out OK. Pam will be there and she will lead on the challah making. I agree.

Pam Facebook-messages me:

Pam's Facebook Message

Note where it says “Obviously this is not a competition!”

I think: Obviously this IS a competition.

Usually cooking and competition, this would be fine. I like to cook but am terrible at baking. I’ve never successfully baked yeast bread except for no-knead bread and quicker no-knead bread (see the pattern?). My bread turns out small and hard, my croissants like small crescent-shaped shortbread cookies and cakes are raw in the middle.

I acquiesce – at least I will get some challah type bread? Maybe with Pam there my challah will turn out ok?

Pam promises this isn’t a competition and I agree. When I arrive at Pam’s she has started her bread already and also started the blog post:

Striezel (Hefezopf) vs. Challah Bake-Off & Recipes

It so obviously is a competition.

Long story short – we bake, it turns out well. My challah is AMAZING. It’s like the challah that I have been thinking about and I am very happy.

Learning – if you want to learn to make bread, make bread with Pam 🙂

Here is the recipe that I used.

Interestingly, both bread recipes are quite similar and both are delicious. In fact I am enjoying a piece of Striezel right now slathered in butter. Yum.

I did it!
I did it!

Our old brick oven

 

This lovely (though derelict and unusable) old brick oven in Upper Austria used to decorate the gardens of our old farmhouse. It was demolished last year after a lifespan of over 100 years (it hadn’t been in use since the 1950s). You can still see the baking chamber made of fireproof brick.

Once, this masonry oven was an important meeting point in the village where people gathered every few weeks to do their baking.

One day a new wood-fired brick oven will bring outdoor baking back into my garden 🙂

Our old brick oven in the gardens of our farmhouse
Our old brick oven in the gardens of our farmhouse in Upper Austria
Our old Brick Oven in Upper Austria
The photographs were taken in 2011 just before it was demolished