|Photo from Sonja Langford|
We've been baking challah for quite some time now. The children look forward to it every Shabbat, and they can't seem to get enough. Baking challah every week is a choice we make because we enjoy eating this bread. I've prepared this bread in a few ways and I'd like to share with you the basic recipe which I use.
This recipe I've been following is from Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice (wonderful recipes). Its a simple recipe which uses much less flour than other Challah recipes I've seen.
4 cups unbleached bread flour
2 TBSP granulated sugar (we use honey)
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 tsp instant yeast (we use regular yeast)
2 TBSP oil
3 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
¾ cup plus 2 TBSP to 1 1/3 cups water, at room temperature
1egg white, whisked until frothy, for egg wash
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish
- Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast (because we don’t use the instant yeast, I usually proof my yeast with the water first, and once its ready then I add the dry ingredients)
- Using another bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and yolks and ¾ cup plus 2 TBSP water. Poor the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a spoon or low speed with paddle attachment in mixer until the ingredients gather and form into a ball. You can add the extra water if need.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter and place the dough on the counter. Knead for about ten minutes (or mix at medium-low speed for about 6 minutes with the dough hook), sprinkle more flour if you need to make the dough more soft and supple but not sticky dough.
- Oil a large bowl, form the dough into a ball and place it into the bowl. Make sure to roll the ball around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. (we’ve also used a dishcloth in the past). Let ferment for one hour at room temperature.)
- Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for about 2 minutes. Re-form it into a ball and return the ball to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or whatever you are using and let ferment for another hour. It should be at least 1 ½ times its original size.
- Remove dough from the bowl and divide it into 6 pieces for 2 loaves. Form each piece into a ball and cover them with a towel and let them rest for ten minutes. (I’ve been omitting this step, and my bread always turns out.)
- Roll out the pieces into strands, each the same length, thicker in the middle and slightly tapered toward the ends. Braid them using the 3-braid method. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and transfer the loaves to the pan. Brush the loaves with the egg wash. Mist the loaves with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or place the pan in a food-grade plastic bag. Here's a short video for 3 braid instructions.
- Proof at room temperature for 60 to 75 minutes or until the dough has grown to 1 ½ times its original size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F with the oven rack on middle shelf. Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.”
- Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 190 degrees and continue baking for 20 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the loaf. The bread should be a golden brown.
- When done, you can transfer the bread to a rack and let cool for at least one hour before slicing or serving.
*I found that by sprinkling sesame seeds after I’ve braided the bread to let rise and then gently brushing the egg white on to the bread , it is helps the sesame seeds to actually stay on.
Do you have a favorite challah recipe?