Friday, December 19, 2008
Ah, winter bliss. Finals are over, and I'm snowed in with plenty of time to bake in a warm kitchen. Honestly, I don't know how these few days of vacation could get any better. Oh wait, yes I do - Challah! I adore making challah. There's something so satisfying about putting together a few simple ingredients and making something that tastes just right every time. It's such a familiar taste, sweet, eggy, fluffy bread - with a bit of honey it tastes like every great challah I've ever had.
With the snow falling outside, I'm just about falling apart with happiness. Portland is really beautiful in the snow, though I have to admit I haven't seen much of it. I have this fear of being in vehicles in the snow, so I've been stuck within a mile's radius of my house since last weekend. Luckily, everything I need is within walking distance, and it's really fun to get all bundled up to walk like a penguin to the coffee shop for hot chocolate while my bread rises.
I used my no-fail challah recipe from Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible. EVERYONE who wants to dabble in home bread baking needs this book, and since I didn't change the recipe at all, I'll encourage you to go find your own copy. Hint - it's also on google books.
Plus, when you make challah, that means you get to make challah french toast! I'm STILL working my way through a big box of apples (yes, the same apples from the great Thanksgiving Pie Event). Winter fruits and vegetables are miracles, honestly. Anyway, I thought I'd make a sauteed apple syrup for my french toast, and it turned out so well, especially with a bit of creamy yogurt. I'll make it through this winter, farmers market or not. If every morning could be like this morning, I don't think I'd have any problems at all.
Stay warm, drive safely and eat well!
Here's the recipe for my challah french toast. Perfect thing for a lazy, snowy morning.
Challah French Toast with Sauteed Apples
1 cup half-and-half or milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large loaf challah
4 large apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Optional: greek yogurt, whipped cream, Crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream, if you dare.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, and vanilla. Pour mixture into shallow container, like a pie pan or deep plate. Slice the challah into thick slices, and soak slices in the egg mixture for 5 minutes, turning once.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked.
Peel, core, Chop apples. Melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and cook until almost soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in sugar and cinnamon, and cook until combined and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Spoon over french toast and serve with creamy topping of your choice. Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!