It was only as I was licking cinnamon sugar off a plate after rapidly devouring three slices of bread that I managed to put a finger on the word I was looking for to describe the cinnamon raisin walnut loaf I had just made.
And this is coming from someone who has generally preferred savory or plain loaves to sweet cinnamon-raisin breads.
Peter Reinhart’s recipe for cinnamon-raisin bread? It’s trouble.
I was never any good at girlish things as a child.
Not jump rope nor dressing up Barbie. (Or myself, for that matter.) And certainly not the braiding of any hair.
So it would be accurate to say that the notion that someday I'd attempt to make challah, the braided bread traditionally eaten on the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays — no, that never once crossed my mind.
Me? Braiding? Gummy ropes of dough? I was set to say "No thank you" to failure and disappointment and skip ahead to ciabatta, the next bread on the list. But no, my friends wouldn't allow it. "It's easier than ciabatta," said Heather. "Think of the French toast that you can make after," Geri said.
Since "French toast" is high on the list of magic words in my husband's vocabulary, out came the mixing bowls and the challah-making commenced.
About bumping knees with Mike at the petite tables of the always-packed Bistrot Paul Bert. And wandering the streets in search of good bread. Or shoes. Or both.
So when it was announced that Recipe #4 of the Bread Baker’s Apprenticechallenge was brioche, I took it as a sign.
Sure, it seemed silly to be attempting to make brioche for the first time when in a matter of days, I’d be in the land of great brioche. But I wanted to understand it. Just last week, I’d made bagels for the first time, a Herculean task that helped me develop a mammoth respect for a bread I’d often overlooked at breakfast.
So, with one pound of butter and a carton of eggs in hand, I steeled my arteries and was ready to go.