I knew this day would come. It had to. Yet, here I am sitting amongst my packed up Sicilian kitchen trying to decide whether I’m happy or sad to be leaving. It will be good to go home. But I will sincerely miss this place.
I can’t point my finger to my favorite thing about it here. I don’t have a favorite food or favorite place, but I do have a favorite “feeling” that I get. And it happens every morning when Paul and I get breakfast.
Each morning we walk, or rather stagger, across the street to get a cappuccino and a pastry. My pastry of choice is usually a cartoccio and Paul enjoys an iris. Both are stuffed with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips and both have changed the way I think about pastry.
At home in Montreal I’m a smoothie girl. I have one for breakfast almost every day during the work week when I’m not having oatmeal, and that is just how it is. On the weekends Paul and I might cook eggs or french toast together, or we might make a fun brunch, but after living in Sicily, we’ve both decided that weekends need to be devoted to getting back into that Sicilian morning head space. A place with a fresh pastry, strong espresso, and most importantly, each other.
At home a pastry board awaits me, among a few ingredients shipped special from Sicily so that I can toy with some of my most loved treats I’ve had here. I can’t wait to experiment, fail a few times, and ultimately get the recipes perfected in my own cozy Montreal kitchen with the frosted winter windows, chipped tile, and aggressive yelling landlord.
Baking bread at home has got to be the best smell that was ever created. And so, here is a bread that does not need perfecting – it’s great the way it is. Pastry making is new to me, but bread? I’ve got it. So to begin my series of puffy doughs and gorgeous yeasty things, here is a recipe I’ve been making for a long time, only whole wheat.
The next time we chat I’ll be with family back in Canada. Wish me luck on this 15 hour flight! xx
- 1/2 cup warm water (between 105 and 110°F)
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 pack) active yeast
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the egg wash)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- To proof the yeast, place the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk in the yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes, or until a bubbly foam starts to form on the surface of the water.
- Add the flours, sugar, sea salt, whole eggs, egg yolk, and olive oil to the yeast and mix on low until combined. Add a little more oil if the dough doesn't come together. Turn speed to medium and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough become mostly smooth, stretchy, and not sticky.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Place in a warm place, or in your oven with the light on to rise (about 1 hour). You want the dough to double in size.
- Press down on the dough to deflate and then cover, letting rise until doubled again (about 45 minutes).
- Pull off 1/3 of the dough (you can weigh this to be exact), set aside, and cover. Divide the remaining piece of dough into 3 equal balls.
- Roll each dough ball on a lightly floured surface until you have thin, round strip of doughs that are equal in length. Pinch one end of the dough strips together and begin to braid, pinching the end together when finished.
- Divide the smaller piece of reserved dough into 3 balls and roll and create a second braid.
- Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and lightly brush the top of the large braid. Set the smaller braid on top of the larger bread.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and lift the loaf on top. Cover the dough with a clean dishcloth and place the pan in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush entire loaf with egg white and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bread looks nice and brown on top.
- Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Slice and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride
Prep time includes allowing the dough to rise.