Baking Bread: Challah

I have a confession to make: I am newly obsessed with making my own bread. It started last month when I caved in to years of prodding from James about it. On principal I had avoided baking bread because of the time it takes. Waiting for it to rise. And rise again. It’s a pain. I would make quick breads like banana and zucchini breads, which totally aren’t fast since they bake for A LONG TIME, but that’s besides the point, they don’t require rising, hence quick. Anyway, that is besides the point…I finally decided to face my fear.

I first made this french bread recipe from Our Best Bites. It was simple and ended up delicious. It was a basic bread, James said it could be a tad saltier. But all in all it was good. We used it for sandwiches, toast, and garlic bread. I enjoyed it…and forgot to take a photo.

But then I made my all-time favorite bread, and one that I have trouble finding a good one at all times of the year in Washington (except Trader Joe’s): Challah. The Jewish egg bread is SO GOOD. Seriously beyond versatile. You can make sandwiches, french toast, etc, etc, etc. It’s the best bread ever. I scoured the web over and over to find the perfect recipe. After looking at a lot, I settled on making some edits to a chocolate chip challah that I made (well helped make) with one of my best friends Anna a few years ago.

It turned out great! I will probably never buy challah again. For reals. Just look at how pretty it is! (And giant.)

http://instagram.com/p/bM67O-o6Cd/Now the recipe.

Homemade Challah
Adapted from Food Network Magazine

2 packets active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sugar, plus a pinch
7 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for the bowl

Directions

Mix the yeast, a pinch of sugar and 1 cup warm water in a small bowl. Set aside while you measure out the other dry ingredients, or until frothy.

Whisk 3 1/2 cups flour, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a large bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Add 1 egg, the vegetable oil and 1 cup warm water; stir until combined. Gradually stir in the remaining 3 1/2 cups flour until the dough starts to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour to 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a ball, then roll each ball into a 1 1/2-to-2-inch-wide strand, about 16 inches long. Lay the strands side by side on a sheet of parchment paper and pinch them together at one end.

Braid the 3 strands: Cross the right strand over the middle strand. Then cross the left strand over the middle strand. Repeat, crossing the right strand over the middle strand, then the left over the middle, until all of the dough is braided. Pinch the dough together at the end.

Slide the loaf (with the parchment paper) onto a baking sheet. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, then brush the egg wash all over the loaf. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. (If it is too thick you may need to cook it just a bit longer.)

ENJOY!

Do you hate or love baking bread? What’s your favorite bread to make? Or eat?

One response to “Baking Bread: Challah

  1. Oh I LOVE baking bread! My favorite bread to make and eat are potato bread, brioche and pain de campagne. (….maybe more…) 😉

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