Thursday Sweets: MAD4 and Everything Challah


Never heard of MAD symposium? Top contributors in the food world get together in a very cool city to talk about food, eat food, and create shenanigans. What was special about this year? The whole deal was broadcast on The Lake Radio. I listened in bed. At the gym. In my car. At work. Everywhere. It was fascinating. This year’s topic: “What is Cooking?” 

I’ve vowed to be there next year. Who’s going with me? Until then, below are my favorite bits and bobs that I heard.

  • “Young cooks: you should be afraid. Fear is the greatest creative engine.” – Albert Adria
  • Andre Mifano was seriously amazing. So many F-bombs and a super great speaker. AND the idea of: Why in the hell aren’t we having events like MAD4 all over the world, all the time??
  • Tatiana Lehva opened a restaurant in Paris four months ago. Her thoughts were really raw and wonderful. “You are showing the most intimate side of yourself [when opening] and exposing yourself to fierce judgment.” AND “In a time of uncertainty, I found tradition and French technique very comforting.” I HEAR THAT.
  • Anya Von Bremzen is a food writer who made us wonder: Why aren’t we considering the diner more often? “We are creating a fantasy when we cook. We create the fantasy that everything is better than in real life. A great restaurant is a laboratory for the future. Leave room in your fantasy for the diner.”

My brain is still buzzing, just thinking of the things I heard. AGAIN: Who’s going to Copenhagen with me next year?
Honestly, there’s no intro for this challah, other than: It’s frickin’ challah with everything bagel toppings. You can customize the toppings to be what you like, but I recommend: kosher salt, poppy seeds, caraway, fennel, sesame seeds, and copious amounts of dried garlic and onion. COPIOUS.

Everything Challah Recipe (based on this recipe by Isa Chandra)

2 c non-dairy milk

1/4 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 c granulated sugar

1/2 c oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever you have)

2 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast

2 very overripe bananas, mashed REALLY well

7-8 c all-purpose flour + some for kneading

1 Tbsp salt


Use an egg wash if you aren’t vegan (1 egg, 1 yolk, pinch salt)

2 Tbsp maple syrup + 2 Tbsp non-dairy milk if you are vegan

Spice blend:

Sprinkle on how much you want of the following: dry garlic, dry onion, kosher salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway, fennel

Heat the milk, turmeric and sugar to about 110F. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Be sure it isn’t above 110F, or it will kill the yeast. Add in the yeast and stir gently. Let this mixture sit until it’s bubbly and smells amazing, about five minutes. Add in the oil, mashed bananas, and salt – mix to combine. Add in the flour, about 3 cups at a time, mixing well. You’ve added enough flour when the mixture is no longer too sticky. It should not look flour-y.

Plop your dough onto a floured surface and knead or punch for about five minutes. You want to develop enough gluten in the dough so it doesn’t break later on. Also, this is really therapeutic. Put the kneaded dough into a greased bowl, place a piece of waxed paper on top of that, then a tea towel. Leave the bread to rise until it doubles in size, or about an hour. You can speed this up by putting the covered bowl in a sink filled with warm water.

When the dough is done rising, divide it in two equal pieces. Divide each of those pieces in three pieces. Each of the small pieces should be rolled in 24″ logs. Braid three of those babies together and wrap them into a ring. Pinch the ends together. Each crown needs one greased jelly roll pan. Throw a tea towel over each crown and set them on your stovetop.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Let the crowns rise until they are nice and supple, about 20 minutes. Brush with egg wash or vegan mixture, then sprinkle copious amounts of spices. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. you know your bread is done when you tap it, and it sounds hollow.