Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Challah Bread

Oh my, it seems like it has been such a long time since I have baked bread.  And I miss it.  But it is time to get back to what I love doing!

Challah bread!  This is a wonderful rich bread.   It is also known as the traditional Sabbath bread of the Jewish faith and is sometimes made even more ornately for major celebrations such as weddings and Bar and Bas Mitzvahs.  When it is made properly, it is an appealing loaf, its braided strands are plump and shiny.  If you are really adventuresome, you can try a 6 strand braid!  I haven't quite master that yet!  I stick to either 3 or 4 strands.

BUT, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this wonderful bread.  Challah is not a difficult bread to make.  It doesn't have to ferment like sourdough.  AND you don't have to feed it!  Please hold your applause down. 

This bread makes wonderful French Toast.  So that is why I am making this bread today.  My husband loves French Toast and I haven't made it for him in a long time.  Thus time to make Challah bread!!

The recipe comes from Peter Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb" Book.  This will make 1  large loaf.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups Bread Flour
1/4 cup sugar
 2 t instant yeast
2 T unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup water, room temperature

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl using a dough hook.  When completely mixed, you can either knead this by hand for 10 to 15 minutes or use the dough hook to mix the dough for 12 minutes - your choice.  I usually do it by hand since I love the feel of this dough.  You can always tell how good the bread is going to be by the feel of the dough and this dough has a great feel to it!

Now you will cover the bowl with saran wrap and a towel and let it rise for an hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured board or countertop.  Knead for 5 minutes.  Place back in the bowl.  Cover again with the saran wrap and towel.  Let it rise again for 1 hour.

After the second rise, you will divide the dough into 3 separate balls and cover each with saran wrap.  Let them rest for 20 minutes.  This helps to relax the gluten. 

For this baking, I will only be doing a 3 strand braid because I don't feel very adventuresome today!  So I will roll each of the balls of dough in a long roll about 8 inches and attach them together as shown below.

You will now braid the 3 strands.  Peter Reinhart does illustrate in his book how to do the more complicated braids if you want a challenge!!

This is how a 3 braided challah turns out.

Place the braid on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let it rise for another hour. The bread will be baked in a 375 oven for 35 to 45 minutes.  Halfway through the baking, you will rotate the bread front to back to ensure that you get even browning.  The loaf is done when it is golden brown.

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