October 3, 2023
Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: Bread
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
In the early planning phase of the lunch program, we discussed the possibility of making our own bread on site. What better way to stimulate children’s appetites than the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the school?
Although it seemed a somewhat ambitious plan at the onset, it has become a reality incorporated into our menu. On several early mornings, dough is made from scratch for Challah bread, whole wheat buns, chicken cheese dog crescents, and pizza pockets.
Our French Toast, cooked maple apples, home-made chicken noodle soup Wednesday has become one of our signature luncheons and preparations begin on Monday with the making of Challah bread.
Challah Bread is a Jewish egg bread and is a finely grained bread, most often slightly sweet (for a bread) and eggy. This rich bread is perfect for French Toast and adds a hint of honey flavor with a tender texture. We would like to share this recipe with you and encourage you to give it a try!
Challah Egg Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
1 package (1/4 ounce) quick rise instant yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°)
1/2 cup honey
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
In a large bowl, combine water, honey, oil, and eggs; mix until smooth. In a separate bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Stir in into egg mixture to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead only until smooth and elastic, (very little kneading is required.) Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two. Working with one piece at a time, cut the dough into thirds. Roll each piece into a 16-in. rope. Place ropes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and braid. Pinch ends to seal; tuck under.
For egg wash, in a small bowl, whisk egg and milk until blended; brush over each loaf.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
The sliced Challah bread is dipped in a mixture of eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon and baked on a griddle. There is much anticipation as this delightful aroma permeates the school!
Pulled pork and pulled chicken lunches are accompanied by whole wheat buns made fresh in the morning as is the dough for our chicken cheese dog crescents accompanied by the home-made alphagetti featured in our Fall blog. Pizza pockets have become another favourite and the pizza dough is made on site as well.
We have also served various quick breads: sweet potato corn muffins and teddy bear and heart shaped Buttermilk biscuits which accompany the glazed pineapple ham and sweet potato fries lunch.
The winter menu will have several new items including sliced roast beef served on multigrain seeded bread containing edible plant seeds which provide even more vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
The goal of providing healthy, whole-food based lunches to the children has been the drive behind the hot lunch program. By making many of the yeast breads and quick breads we can ensure that preservatives, additives and artificial dyes are excluded and the resulting products are pure, delicious and always healthy.
Our philosophy has been summed up quite aptly by one of my favourite chefs:
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
Until next time,