I baked bread yesterday and I felt relieved and thankful. Relieved that the pain from the infected wound on my knee has subsided enough so I could stand for extended period of time. Thankful that the darkest hour is behind me. Contrarily to what I thought at the time, I will get healthy again (fingers crossed). I am still not out of the woods yet. Follow up assessment from my family doctor put me on another round of oral antibiotics. Hopefully the pills will continue the battle where the IV left off and win this war for good.
Yesterday I took an easy day just puttering around at home. With a whole day of free time ahead of me, I immediate looked into my vault of to-bake recipes for ideas. Rosh Hashanah was already over and I am not even Jewish but smitten kitchen’s Fig, Olive Oil, Sea Salt Challah has long tempted me. How can it not? Glossy burnished round of knotty egg bread with swirls of dried fig filling inside, all nicely balanced with flaky Maldon sea salt and savoury olive oil! It looks just complicated enough to keep me occupy for a few hours yet still simple enough for guaranteed success. Sign me up!
This bread was everything I hoped for. The taste was unusual yet addictive thanks to the salty delicate crunch of sea salt. Airy tender texture from eggs and olive oil was textbook perfect. It was visually stunning even though it was not one of my best works with shaping a blob of dough. As much as I tried, the dough did not relax enough to stretch much longer. The four ropes of fig-filled dough were pudgy and short at best.
I could get frustrated over the poorly shaped dough but what was the point? The ropes barely stretched enough to weave twice around itself but it was enough to create the signature appearance. During the last stage of proofing, the ends untucked themselves. Nothing that a bit of pinching and rounding could not fix.
The sweet fig filling did not overwhelm the bread at all. I gladly enjoyed the loaf as part of dinner and not just tea time snack or breakfast treat. I was a little bit disappointed that the swirls did not turn out as impressive as shown in smitten kitchen’s version but no big deal. I was only too happy to be on my feet and baking again.
Amazing how a bout of health scare can bring everything into perspective. I need that kick in the back every once in a while. Only next time, please let the kick be a gentle nudge instead.