“A Loaf of Bread” to Fall in Love With – Challah

 

Here  is a  4 strand  Challah   studded with poppy seeds.   This is   the all time  favorite  bread  for  us  and   made  quite often at  home. Why do we  love  it  so much ? The  reasons  are  many — it is  a tad  bit  sweet ,   rich , has a  very  fine  crumb  etc. etc.,   the  list  goes on.  In short  it is  our celebration  bread – a bit  of  indulgence  to celebrate  the  little  things  in life.   It is lovely as a  plain toast ,  goes  great with  savory dips and makes beautiful sandwiches. The  leftovers can be  made into French Toast  or  Bread  Pudding  the  next  day.  So if  you are  ever  stumped  for a  delicious  bread  recipe  for  breakfast,  or   any other  meal  – try Challah .

Challah is  not  just  any bread,  but  the  bread  for  Jewish celebrations.  Religions  that  span  centuries  and  millennia  are  awash in symbolism.  The day to day acts of  cooking,  eating ,  cleaning   etc  takes  extraordinary meanings that  leave  the  uninitiated baffled.  Challah falls into this deeply symbolic  category  for the  Jewish people. How to prepare the  dough,  how  the  loaf is  shaped  and  how to serve  and  eat  it, there is  symbolism  in all the steps.  I do not  pretend  to understand  it, but  it is  indeed fascinating.  As  one of  the uninitiated to me  this  rich  bread in all its  different  forms tastes  simply divine.

Today I am talking about the most traditional Challah with a soft  crumb  that is  feels  like a cake.    Incidentally  Challah is  made parve  which means that  it  contains  no  meat  or  diary .   There is a  vegan  version or  water  Challah containing no eggs,  more  on that  another  time.   This  wonderful  loaf  uses  absolutely no diary  products  and  gets  its  moist  cake like  texture  from eggs  and  the  oil   added .  Over  time what I have  learnt  is  that  the slow  multiple  rises is  the   way to improve the  flavor  and  texture  are  the  slow  multiple  rises.  It  takes  time, but the   results in an incredible  loaf.  Of course  you can  avoid  it  and  make the Challah  just like a standard  loaf of bread  and it  will still  be a  delicious. Here is  the  basic  recipe :

Simple Challah

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

All Purpose or Bread Flour - 500gms (4 to 4 1/2C)
Eggs - 2
Sugar - 50 gms (1/4 C)
Water - 50 gms (1/4C)
Salt - 10 gms (1 1/4Tsp)
Yeast - 8gms (2 Tsp)
Oil - 1/4 C
Water - 100 gms (1/3 to 1/2 C)
Eggwash
Egg - 1
Water - 1 Tsp

Instructions

Warm 1/4 C water to 110°F or just warm to touch . Dissolve 1 Tbsp Sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast on top . Set aside to bloom .

Put the flour, remaining sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the mix, add the eggs to it. Add the activated yeast , oil and half the remaining water to it as well. Gently mix until all the flour is moistened , adding enough of the remaining water to bring the dough together . Cover and set aside for 10 to 20 minutes .

Uncover and knead gently for 10 minutes until a soft and pliable dough is formed. This dough should be a little wet than normal . Form the dough into a ball. Grease a bowl large enough to hold the risen dough and place the dough ball in it . Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil evenly . Cover and place in the fridge for an overnight rise (about 8 hrs ).

Uncover and punch down the dough . Knead a few times in the bow, form into a ball and let rise again till almost doubled - 30 mins to 1 hr in room temperature - or few hours in the fridge.

Punch down and divide into 2 equal halves. Take one half and divide into 3 equal portions.

Roll each portion onto about 12 to 14 inch long rope . Braid the rope together . Transfer to a baking sheet . Repeat with the other half .

Cover and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes until almost doubled .

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Break the egg for the egg wash and beat well with 1 tsp water. Brush the top of the braids with egg wash. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with the remaining egg wash. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes till done .

Cool before slicing.

https://oventales.com/challah/

This  bread  recipe  used  active  dry yeast , and  starts in the  usual way,by activating  yeast  in  water .  Warm 1/4 C water to 110°F or just warm to touch . Dissolve 1 Tbsp Sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast on top . Set aside to bloom .

Take  the   flour  in  large  mixing  bowl, mix  in the  sugar  and  salt .  Beat  the  eggs   and  set  aside .  Make a  well in the   flour  mix  and   add  the  activated  yeast .  Add the  beaten  egg  and  oil  and  slowly  mix  in  the   flour. Alternately you can  break the  eggs  into the   well in the   flour  and  beat  them  in there are  as well . Add  just   enough  water   to bring  the   dough  together .  Cover and set  aside  for  20 mins .

After  20 minutes uncover  and  turn the   dough out  onto a   lightly  floured   surface (or  use a  large  mixing  bowl).  Knead  for  10  minutes , until it  becomes  soft and  very supple.  Challh  dough is   very  soft  and  moist . Take  care  not  to  add  more   flour  as   you  knead . I  find  that  kneading  in my mixing  bowl  to be  better  here .Form the dough into a ball. Grease a bowl large enough to hold the risen dough and place the dough ball in it . Turn to coat all the  sides of the dough with oil evenly . Cover and place in the fridge for an overnight rise (about 8 hrs ).
Remove  from the  fridge, uncover and punch down the dough . Knead a few times in the bowl , form into a ball and let rise again till almost doubled – 30 mins to 1 hr in room temperature – or few hours in the fridge.  The  second  rise   will be  faster    than  the  first  one .

Now  it  is  time  to shape. There  are  many ways  to shape  Challah .  Here I am  describing  one  of  the  simplest  the  three  stand  braid .  Punch down and divide into 2 equal halves . Take one half and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion onto about 12 to 14 inch long rope.

Place 3 of the  ropes on the  baking  sheet  side by side .  Follow the   directions  above  and  braid by starting  at  the   center of  the  ropes  instead  of  the  ends .  Taper  the  ends  of  the   ropes a  bit   and  pinch  the ends  together  and  fold  under if  needed.  Cover and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes until almost doubled .

While  the  braids  are   rising , preheat the oven to 350°F. Break the egg for the egg wash and beat well with 1 tsp water. Brush the top of the braids  liberally with egg wash .  Sprinkle   seeds on top  if  using . Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes . Remove from the oven .  By this  time  the  bread  has  had  a  good  oven  spring  it  looks  like  the  first   picture   above .  The darker  sheen  is  where  we  brushed  the  eggwash  and  the   white  is  the  result  of   expansion  while   baking .   Brush the  remaining  eggwash  over  the  bread  and  return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes till done .
Cool before slicing.

SimpleChallah19

SimpleChallah24

 

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