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For World Bread Day, Let’s Discover The Delights Of Baking Bread In The Wee Hours

Rise early from bed, bake some challah bread, then take pleasure in biting into this warm loaf, crusty yet soft, for breakfast

The whole process of making bread is thoroughly pleasurable: the feeling of the flour, the heady beer-like aroma of yeast, and the dough in its different states of ripeness, from that big pillow of plumpness during fermentation, the resilience one feels during shaping, to the awesome turgidity of its fully proofed splendor. And nothing beats the exhilarating texture and taste of freshly baked bread in the morning!
Challah loaf made from scratch | Photos by Ocs Alvarez | Styling by Bel Alvarez
My interest in bread making began when I was about nine years old. Whenever we would visit my grandparents’ restaurant (which had a bakeshop too), I liked to watch the bakers make meat buns, cinnamon rolls, ensaymada, and pizza dough. My interest in baking came to a head when I noticed the way the dough would rise during its final proof. The buns looked so round and smooth. One day, I just couldn’t help but give each of those adorable puffy balls of dough a good smacking as I was on my way out of the kitchen. A few hours later, my mother took me aside and showed me the disastrous result of what I’d done—the meat buns had deflated and were wrinkled all over. I, however, felt no remorse, and became curious instead. Why did that happen? How did that happen? Since then, bread and bread making became for me a scientific mystery that needed to be unraveled.
The author teaches breadmaking at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management |

Today, I teach and train future bakers, experiment with natural starters, and hone my skills in hand-shaped breads. This is where my bread journey has led me. Bread making makes me happy. It has afforded me many opportunities. It has given me good friends and lasting relationships that have deeply enriched my life, and most importantly, it continues to feed my sense of wonder and my need to explore. Indeed, bread is life, and I would like to think that I am a living testament to this. Challah Loaf Challah is one of those “exotic” breads (at least among Filipinos) that you’ll likely fall in love with once you have a taste. It’s meant for occasions: religious ones, holidays, weddings, and celebrations.

Makes 1 large loaf

  • 1 1/3 cups water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

  • 2 whole eggs

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons iodized salt
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds all-purpose flour, for dusting

1. In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, combine water, instant yeast, eggs, honey, and cooking oil. Mix well. Add flour and salt. Using a wooden spoon or a large rubber spatula, mix until a dough has formed

Steps 2-12:


3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon milk

pinch of salt, optional

Whisk together egg yolks and milk. Then strain the mixture. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

A longer version of this article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 1, 2017

Recipe by Ana Lois Cruz-Lerias

Produced by Ginny Mata