Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Challah Bread

I have always been intimidated by making bread. I mean, how could one go about making delicious warm bread right in their kitchen?? I had accepted defeat a long time and decided that I would have to buy my own bread. Well, guess what?? I will not be doing that anymore! I have been experimenting with my bread baking skills over the last few months and I realized that I CAN make bread at home! So can you...

I set out to find a recipe for challah. It really was a guessing game since I had never made it before! I picked one through a google search (which you can find here) that had great photos and looked easy enough and it took off from there.

Challah Bread

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil + more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs (4 for the dough and 1 to make an egg wash)
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar with 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

Whisk the olive oil into the yeast mixture.

Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time and then whisk in the remaining sugar (1/2 cup) and salt.

Gradually add flour a cup at a time and stir to incorporate.

As you get down to the last cup or so of flour it will be harder to stir and you might want to use your hands to work the flour into the dough.

When the dough holds together, you can begin kneading.

I would not advise using a stand mixer to knead the dough because it will overwork the motor. It really isn't that hard to knead dough once you know how to do it. The best way that I know to explain to you how to do it is to watch a video. This is how I learned to knead dough the proper way.

How to knead dough

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it is elastic, smooth and springs back when you press your finger in it. I won't judge you if you make the pillsbury dough boy sound while you poke at it...

Clean the bowl you made the dough in (or use a new one) and grease with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Keep the dough in a warm place (like the oven...but don't turn it on) and allow it to rise for an hour. If you have things to do you can put it in the fridge to rise for 2-3hours but make sure to allow it to come to room temperature before you move on to the next step. It should double in size during this rise.

Punch the dough down with your fist to remove any air pockets in the dough. Go ahead and take out your aggression! Beat it up!

Reshape the dough by folding it under itself and lightly shape it back into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for an additional 30 minutes.

Now you are ready to braid your dough. This recipe makes two loaves of challah bread. Cut the dough in half and set one half aside for the second loaf.

Cut this piece in half and then cut into thirds to give you a total of six even pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball by gently working the dough with your hands. Now form the dough into long ropes by rolling the dough on a lightly floured surface with your hands. Pretend you are playing with play dough! :)

Each rope should be about 12 inches in length and about 1 1/2 inches wide. Luckily for me, I have granite tiles that are exactly 12 inches each so measuring was not necessary!

Once you have formed all of the ropes grab a large baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper. Set the ropes side by side on the paper and pinch the ends together with your fingers.

To braid the dough you just need to remember this:

Always start at the left hand side! Grab the piece all the way on the left...go over two pieces...under the next piece and then over the last two pieces. Then repeat until you can't do it anymore. Then you will pinch the ends together and tuck it under the loaf.

I made a video that shows you how to braid the dough.

Continue braiding and then complete the steps to form the second loaf of challah. Beat the remaining egg in a small dish and then gently brush the egg wash on the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

After the loaves have risen for an hour, brush them with a second coat of the egg wash and then you can sprinkle on poppy seeds or sesame seeds. I did one loaf of each.

Place them in the middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190 degrees. Mine took about 35 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer you can always gently tap the should sound hollow when it is done.

Allow the loaves to cool on a wire rack!

I know it sounds difficult, but this was *super* easy and incredibly delicious!

Look at the texture of this bread....amazing! As I am sure many of you saw, I was baking this at midnight last night. The smell in my house was incredible! It woke Bryan up out of a sound sleep! Of course I had to make him taste test it at 1:00am...but he didn't complain!


Maeve's Momma said...

And just in time for Hanukkah! Very nice!

Meredith said...

I wish we had SMELL-A-BLOGGING. You are getting REALLY good at taking pictures ONE handed!! :)

Meredith said...

Actually.... um.... are you using a camera stand, or a helper?

Farrah said...

LOL occasionally Bryan is home and I can actually use both hands and have him take a picture here or there. It is sooo much easier than having to stop and wash my hands every two minutes.

Wilde in the Kitchen said...

I love the looks of your six-stranded braid! Thanks for the video, it makes it so much easier to reproduce!

penny aka jeroxie said...

Looks so beautiful!

Jaclyn said...

"I won't judge you if you make the pillsbury dough boy sound while you poke at it..." LOL I would totally do that.

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