One of my favorite things to do is bake bread. Nothing slows down time more than waiting for the dough to rise, often multiple times, and finally being able to bake. Baking today is hardly what it once was, with yeast that comes in a package and kneading being done by machines instead of fists. Still, the smell of yeast and the stretchy yet somehow silky dough bring me back in time.
This weekend I made challah (hal-lah), a Jewish egg bread, for the last night of Hanukkah. I started with two loaves but with a slip of the wrist one loaf went down to the charring coils of the oven, the parchment it sat on catching fire. We soon put the fire out, and pieced together the burned loaf.
The second loaf turned out beautiful but unfortunately a bit dense, not light and fluffy like challah I've had before. For me, this was a lesson in patience. I did not wait long enough for the dough to rise, and ended up with beautiful but less than delicious bread. I'll know next time to take it slow and make sure the yeast has time to do its job. And this time, I have two big loaves of bread with which to make French toast.