There is something amazingly therapeutic about braiding bread. I love it. Feeling the long soft strands and weaving them together to make a beautiful loaf is really rewarding to me. Why don't I make this more often??
The recipe suggested a three strand braid for the bread. Since I have been learning all about braids lately with the clever girl, I decided to get a little fancy and do a 4 strand long loaf and a 4 strand round. My round became a bit squarish, but that is okay. I probably should have tucked the ends in a bit more and puffed the middle up a bit before baking. Regardless, it tasted delicious, so I guess the imperfection of the shape didn't matter! I learned how to braid the dough by referring to the Shiksa in the Kitchen's instructions.
Challah is a Jewish bread that is served at sabbath and holiday meals. The one thing that is different about this particular recipe is that it uses butter and milk. Technically, if you are serving a kosher dinner, and meat is on the table (which it generally would be at such a dinner), you do not mix dairy and meat in a meal. So, that may render this recipe unusable for some, or usable with some modifications. Another recipe I have used uses oil and water instead of butter and milk. Trust me, the butter and milk do help make this challah nice and rich, but I must admit that my other recipe is really good, too! I recently found a recipe for a Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah on Smitten Kitchen's blog. That looks amazing. I will have to give that one a try!
I intend to make the French toast this weekend. I will let you know how it goes!
This recipe for Challah can be found here or on pages 93-94 of Baking with Julia.