from: Bembelman’s Bakery
written by Melinda Green
illustrated by Barbara Seuling
Parents’ Magazine Press, 1978
I have regained my courage. Sorta. The Fair is rolling around again and I’m entering challah. For those who might not be very familiar, challah is a rich yeast bread that includes eggs in the dough. After the second rising, the dough is formed into three long strands and braided, then left to rise again before it is baked. Challah is the bread served in traditional Jewish homes on the Sabbath.
Last week I picked up my rules booklet and found my category (Yeast Bread, Other). I filled out my registration form and took my $1.00 entry fee and $1.00 postage fee to the Fair office. After explaining that my braided loaf included eggs, I wisely asked the woman collecting the money if she thought I had chosen the correct category. She checked with the authorities sorting registration forms in the next room, and assured me that I had indeed. So far, so good.
I got out my kitchen timer. I timed how long it took from proofing the yeast to the final second of the 10-minute kneading session. I got out my kitchen scale and weighed each of the three pieces that would become the braided strands. I timed each of the risings, added the baking time and cooling time and travel time. It’s a seven minute walk from my house to the Arts & Crafts Building in the fairgrounds.
Everything took a loooonnng time. I will have to get up at 4:00 am. But, I have a competitive streak. And a desire to prove that I can bake, even though some people say I’m not a very good cook.
One more practice week to go. The braid needs more practice than the bread! Ribbon or not, I’ll end up with a freezer full of delicious challah. That could count as a win.
Next Wednesday, I will go to the Fair by myself to look for a blue ribbon on the challah that reminds me of my gram’s silver lady-braid, my own chestnut memory-braid and my granddaughter's golden girl-braid..
In the off-chance that I don’t find the blue ribbon or the red one or the white one or the honorable mention green one, I probably should plan on what to enter in 2037. That’s only 21 years from now!