Lemme Challah At You

No milk? No butter? No problem! That was the state of affairs around here a couple weeks ago during Snowmageddon/Snowpocalypse 2010 (pronounced: twenty-ten). We had just enough oil, plenty of eggs, et voilà! We made some bread!
And not just any bread, but challah, a tradition Jewish bread that is slightly sweet and perfectly chewy. ‘Chefski actually braided the one pictured here! Ain’t she a beaut’?!

I don’t call him ‘Chefski for nothin’!

We enjoyed munching on it plain, covered in hummus, dunked in hot chocolate, and transformed into French toast later in the week (post on that adventure coming soon). Future experiments may involve a challah-makowiec hybrid 🙂 Given the endless possibilities, what’s not to like?
Challah Bread, Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Challah Bread
Yield: Two loaves
1 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil 
5 eggs
1 Tablespoon salt
8 cups all purpose flour (add up to 1/2 cup extra if necessary)
1. Whisk together yeast, lukewarm water, and 1 Tablespoon sugar in a large bowl.
2. Add oil, whisk it in. Then whisk in 4 eggs one at a time. Mix in the 1/2 cup sugar and the salt.
3. Now it’s time to slowly add the flour, mixing your dough together with a wooden spoon. When it finally comes together, it’s time to knead.
4. Turn out your dough onto a lightly-floured surface and knead it until smooth. This might take a few minutes, but I find this to be one of the most satisfying parts of making bread (and a great way to get your heart rate going… seriously! kneading can feel like exercise!)
5. Rising #1: Using a small amount of oil, lightly grease a bowl (maybe even the one you were just using, cleaned out). Place your dough inside and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size, i.e. 1 hour. (Trick reminder: preheat the oven to 150 degrees, turn it off, then place your bowl inside the oven for dough-rising).
6. Rising #2: Deflate your dough (press it down), then cover with plastic wrap, and let rise again for another 30 minutes.
7. Braiding Time! I used this great youtube video to figure out how to form a six-strand braided challah, and here’s my attempt to transcribe the instructions:
-Divide your dough in half — each one of these can make one challah loaf.
-Now that you have half, divide into six balls. 
-Form each ball into a rope that’s approximately 12 inches long and 1.5 inches wide.
-Place the six ropes in a row and parallel to one another (place them vertically so that you can braid).
-Pinch the top of the ropes together.
-Take the right-most strand. Place all the way to the left.
-Take the left-most strand, and place it all the way to the right.
– You see how you have four strands in the middle? Push them apart a little, so you have two and two. This will make it easier to manage the pieces.
-Take the left-most strand, and place it in the middle (i.e. skip over two strands).
-Take the second strand from the right, place all the way to the left.
-Take the right-most strand, and place it in the middle (i.e. skip over two strands… are you seeing a bit of a pattern yet?)
-Take the second strand from the left, place it all the way to the right.
-Take the left-most strand, and place it in the middle.
– Continue the above steps until you’ve braided the whole loaf.
8. Once you’ve finished braiding, beat one egg, and brush over each loaf (having no brush, I am proud to say I used my hands here). At this juncture you may elect to do what I did, which is to freeze one (wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil). When you do decide to bake it, defrost at room temp for 5 hours before baking.
9. Rising #3: If you’re baking today: Let rise for 1 hour.  
10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and brush with egg again. 
11. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden.
12. Eat lots, and save some for French Toast if you can!
This entry was published on February 28, 2010 at 1:15 am and is filed under bread. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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