It is early on Erev Rosh Hashanah. After binge watching five seasons of The Great British Baking Show I am bubbling with confidence that I will have a successful bake. What could be more Jewish than a perfectly round, perfectly plaited, perfectly risen, crisply crusted, raisin-studded mound of holiday challah?
It’s been three years since my major life move to the Seattle suburbs. It’s been an equally long time that I have missed my old way of synagogue life. So with an appropriate modicum of guilt, because I will not be driving twenty miles to usher in the New Year in the city, I have agreed with myself that a loaf of challah, honey, and an apple will meet my needs and fulfill my sense of obligation.
In this spirit, I’ve commandeered the red Epicurean Kitchen-Aid workhorse from its perch on the half-wall room divider between the tiny kitchen where I am standing and the feline playroom that doubles as my ‘entertainment’ area to begin the ritual of making bread. Four cups of flour, yeast, sugar, water, oil, salt, raisins, cinnamon and three large eggs at room temperature. In good BBC fashion I have opted to weigh the flour—110 grams to a cup—and the sugar. I have run the tap and carefully heated the water so the yeast can fulfill its duty to be fruitful and multiply. The remaining ingredients are artfuly arranged, mis en place, on the faux marble counter.
When the mixer has worked up the dough, which does look and smell lovely already, I turn it out to knead it up a bit when my baker’s sixth sense sounds a teeny alarm. “A little bit heavy, isn’t it?” My eyes scan past the counter and rest on the stove top. Three speckley-brown, perfectly oval, room temperature eggs are still nesting on the coils of the front burner, daring me to ‘incorporate them fully, one by one’ into my resting dough ball. “It’s a shame,” I say as I throw the bewildered ball back into the mixer, “but I am going to make this work.”