Well it had to happen sooner or later, again. When I began "the great challah experiment" my hope was to find the best challah recipe. I assumed that each week I’d create a new tasty variation and that by the end of the year it would be a delicious blur. Sadly, twice now, I have attempted a challah recipe that was disappointing.

On January 19th I tried Georgian Challah from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America and created a dry, round, biscuit-looking, rock-like bread. That recipe didn’t have a single egg in it which struck me as odd. The comments I jotted down after attempting it were "thumbs down, no egg, not challah-like, not really good at all."  No egg, no good.

You may recall that last week’s low-cholesterol challah required just one egg for two loaves and used less than 1 egg for the wash. While the end-result wasn’t really challah, it was still tasty and lovely to look at. This past Friday I tried the Golden Challah Bread recipe from Louise Fiszer’ and Jeanette Ferrary’s Jewish Holiday Feasts which calls for 6 egg yolks, and 3 whole eggs. This recipe with it’s nine eggs created the scariest end result since my sister and I attempted to make perfume for our mom for mother’s day when we were little. We gathered magnolia petals that had fallen from our front yard, ripped them, boiled them and added Jean Nate body splash to hide the less than floral scent we were brewing. I still don’t know what was scarier the end result or the slimy mess we left behind. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

The recipe started out with promise. The yeast, water and saffron proofed very nicely. I splurged and bought some saffron after reading for months that it would add a beautiful golden tint. It was only as I began adding all of the eggs, and mixing in the bread flour that something seemed off. I reread the recipe several times to make sure I wasn’t missing a step to add more water. The dough wasn’t smooth and silky, instead it felt clumpy like play-doh. I kneaded it, placed it in the greased bowl, covered it with plastic wrap as suggested and it did easily double in volume. As I punched it down and gave it a quick knead something wasn’t quite right. It was only as I cut it into six equal pieces and attempted to roll out the "snakes" to create the braids that I began to have serious doubts. Usually the only challenge in rolling the snakes is that they are too elastic and want to snap back together. This dough was stubborn to roll out, it resisted any attempt, whether I tried to roll it on the counter or in between my hands like I learned in elementary school. As I braided it, it began to break apart. I mended the loaves and brushed them with a beaten yolk as instructed. The end result was a challah freak show. The braids were twisted and contorted, each end broken free, stretching sadly apart. The glossy egg wash absorbed into the dry loaves leaving behind dark shiny streaks. We had Shabbat dinner at temple so with considerable effort I broke off a hunk, hoping that at least the inside could be salvaged and offered everyone a little nibble. Without exception they grimaced before spitting it back out.(me too)

No eggs, no good. One egg, not bad. Nine eggs, never again.

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