This week I have chosen to bake challah. Simple enough, so it would seem. And yet....for years....I haven't done it. I first became interested in challah watching an old Sex in the City episode. I know. That's not very spiritual or domestic of me. But I remember watching Charlotte braid the challah, and from that point forward I seemed to see it everywhere and hear it raved about time and again. Challah this and challah that. My little sister even made her own, and she sent me a photograph of it and it was lovely. Really. It looked bakery-quality.
For those of you unfamiliar of challah, this is what it looks like:
Isn't it beautiful? Okay, so I will also admit that I've never even tasted challah. I know. And let me tell you why I've never tasted challah, because I've been tempted many times. But each time I am at a bakery or at Whole Foods and see a lovely, buttered loaf of the braided bread, I think to myself: No, I'll not buy it. I'll go home and make it instead.
So, I don't buy it, and when I get home all of my good intentions fall by the wayside because I am afraid. Afraid? Afraid of what? Well, here it is: I'm afraid to braid the dough. I know. It seems so simple, but there it is. I'm afraid of dough. I'm not having nightmares about it or anything. I don't wake up and slap my husband screaming: THE DOUGH, THE DOUGH!!!
But I'm afraid the dough won't rise. I'm afraid it will be too sticky. I'm afraid that I won't braid it properly and my wonky results will be a mockery of religious bread. What if it's terrible and I spend all day working on it and then I have to trash it because it's a flop?
Even as I'm typing this, it's hard to make the connection between my brain and my emotions, because clearly being afraid of dough is an emotional response. I mean, I bake and cook every day. I have even made homemade bread. And it was good. So, where does this fear of challah come from?
So, I have to do with the challah what I will have to do with all my fears..........face it and conquer it instead of turning tail and refusing to try anything at all at which there is the slightest inkling I might fail.
Because, after all, what's the worst that could happen? The dough won't rise. Okay. I won't braid it properly. Fine. It will burn. Oh well.
And if any of those things happens, I will resist the urge I've always had when I fail - to run away from the offensive experience and say to myself: fine. I don't bake challah. It's not for me.
I will resist this, and I will start again, with more yeast and more time and more braiding. And I will do it until I do it right. I will be Julia Child with her pounds of onions, and then I'll sit down with a cup of tea and break bread and think about what's on the list for next week.
Wish me luck and please......if there are any challah experts out there......give a girl some tips?