Saturday, September 17, 2011

Challah Bread

Challah is a delicious and labor intensive braided Jewish Egg Bread...Lets place the emphasis on delicious and try not to think about all the labor that goes into it. I got my start with a recipe I found on and have been tweaking it ever since. So if you want to delight your friends and family with some homemade bread and have some time on your hands, this is a project for you. You will not be disappointed.

Makes 4 loaves

2 Tbs dry yeast
2 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs beaten (for the dough)
2 egg yolks beaten and set aside (for glazing)
1 Tbs salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey (for glazing)
About 9 1/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat yeast into water and set aside for about 10 minutes until it bubbles.

Bubbling yeast

In the largest bowl you can find beat your eggs, then add your salt, sugar and oil and beat until combined. Once your yeast has bubbled add to the mixture and beat again. Now its time to add the flour which needs to be done slowly and gradually. You can start combining the flour with a wooden spoon until you have a dough that seems to be sticking together.

Now dump the mixture onto a floured surface and knead vigorously for 15 minutes (set your timer, and do not skimp on this part). You want the dough to be smooth and elastic. You can gradually add flour as needed if needed. Knead until dough is smooth and and elastic (press your finger into the dough, it should press down then rise back up on its own). Your arms will hurt, trust me its worth it. 

Smooth and elastic dough ball

Now that the dough is kneaded pour a little oil into the bowl (make sure to coat it) and place the dough ball into it. Flip the dough over so that each side is coated with oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise for 2-3 hours. Depending on how warm your house is it could rise faster. You will know its done when it has doubled in size.

Dough that has doubled in size

Once the dough has doubled in size punch it down into the bowl. Remove from the bowl and knead again for about 5-10 minutes. Separate into four equal sections.

Take one of your 4 sections and split into three. Roll each section into a long rope about 12" to 18" long. Lay the three sections next to each other and pinch the tops of them together and fold over to secure. Braid the dough together. When you get to the end pinch the three together and fold under to secure the seam. Complete this process with each of the remaining three dough sections you have left.

Place two loaves each onto well oiled baking sheets and let rise for another hour. If its warm in my kitchen I will cheat sometimes and put the first set into the oven in 30 minutes. Play it by ear, you will know if the dough needs to rise still by looking at it.

Braided and doubled in size

Now you need to take the eggs yolks you beat earlier and combine them with 1/4 cup honey. Generously brush each loaf with the egg honey mixture using a pastry brush. Place into oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You will know they are done when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.

Golden Brown
Ready to be served!

As a side note I have burned a lot of this bread in the past since each oven is different. I recommend starting with one loaf in the oven and checking it every ten minutes to be sure its not browning too fast. It's better to burn one loaf then all four.

Once the loaves are cooled I suggest wrapping them in plastic wrap till serving. This is also a great bread for making french toast and bread pudding. But my favorite way to have it is with butter, dipped into my Matzo Ball Soup.

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