Classic Wholemeal Loaf

Those of you who follow my blog might recall that back in June I had a go at making bread for the first time. That was a Challah bread, and whilst certainly not perfect, it went down a treat with Will. So much so, that the next day he came back from the supermarket with some ‘Very Strong Wholemeal Flour’. I think this was a fairly unsubtle hint that he wanted me to bake him some wholemeal bread! So with the use-by date looming on the flour, I decided to have a go.

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Last weekend I baked bread for the first time; I don’t know how I have gone 40 years without doing so – it is so much fun! Given my inexperience, I probably should have chosen an easy bread to start with, but no, I decided to choose a pretty one instead 🙂 I found a recipe for a lovely looking plaited loaf on page 416 of Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook. The bread is called Challah, and it is an important bread in Jewish cuisine. It is often eaten on Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday evening), which is Judaism’s day of rest, so I guess it was appropriate that I baked it on a Saturday! During Shabbat, two Challah loaves feature as part of three special meals, and a blessing is recited over the bread during two of these meals. As I’m not Jewish, there were no blessings involved, but it was a small miracle that my loaves turned out as well as they did, and I was naturally very grateful for that!

Making the Bread

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

First I gathered together all of the ingredients for making the bread:

  • 500 g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 x 7 g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (plus extra for greasing)

Just a few notes on some of the ingredients for future reference; I used Allinson’s strong white bread flour, M&S table salt and Hovis fast action bread yeast. I spent quite some time researching which type of salt to use, as the recipe didn’t specify this. I learnt that when baking bread, it’s best to use non-iodised salt, such as sea salt, as iodine can give the bread an unpleasant flavour. It’s also best to use fine salt as opposed to coarse, as it’s easier to measure. Whilst fine sea salt would have been the best option, I only had coarse sea salt so I decided to use the table salt I had which didn’t list iodine as an ingredient (and hoped for the best).

Challah Ingredients
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