Challah Bread

My sweet mother-in-law recently treated me to Molly Yeh’s cookbook, and I have to report, my first attempts at her pizza dough (which is actually Jim Lahey’s pizza dough) and challah bread have both been complete successes!  I’ve never before tried to make challah bread because it looked too complex.  When I saw that the recipe was also in the spring issue of my favorite magazine, I knew it was an omen from the flour gods to give it a try.  I know it looks intimidating, but if you can braid hair, you can braid bread, and voila you have challah!   Maybe you were one of those people in high school who could make French or fancy fishtail braids, and if so, feel free to cut more strands for a more intricate braid.  If are a non-hair-braider, well, I am pretty sure Youtube has a video or two for that.  Molly’s recipe says to knead by hand – I did not follow her advice and instead used my stand mixer with dough hook attachment.  The dough still doubled in size when rising and baked up perfectly light and flakey with a chewy crust.  The challah is best sliced warm out of the oven and slathered with salted butter.  It also freezes well and toasts up beautifully.  Don’t forget French toast, toad-in-the-hole, or bread pudding either!  Holy moly the possibilities for challah are endless!

❤️mmmmm butter❤️

To begin, you need to activate the yeast.  Dissolve it into a bowl of warm water with a little sugar for 5 minutes or so, until it starts foaming.  While the yeast is doing it’s thing, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour with salt and remaining sugar.  And finally, in a third, smaller bowl, whisk together two of the eggs with the veg oil (I used canola) and honey.  Once  the yeast has foamed up, add it to the flour in your mixer’s bowl and turn the mixer on low, using the dough hook attachment.  Immediately follow with the egg mixture.  Let the dough hook work for a minute or two before bumping up the speed to medium.  Let it mix for 5 minutes, until smooth and slightly sticky.  Oil a medium-sized bowl (again canola) and add the dough to the bowl.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 2-2 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

⚡️⚡️it’s alive!!!!⚡️⚡️

Believe it or not, we are almost there!  Line a baking sheet pan with parchment.  Take the puffed dough out of the bowl and pat it into an as symmetrical as possible rectangle.

recommended size: 3″x12″

From the rectangle, cut 3 strips of dough.  I used a pizza cutter for ease of cutting.

so exciting, it’s really happening!

Next, roll each strip into a log.  Try again for thickness symmetry when rolling the logs of dough.

next comes the exciting part…

Pinch one of the ends of the three dough pieces together, and tuck the ends underneath themselves.  Begin braiding – I braided under rather than over, if that makes any sense.  Try for a tight braid, as the dough will puff when baking.

I already can’t wait to bake this bread again!

Once finished with your braid, pinch and tuck the other ends together as you first did when beginning.  Place your braid on the parchment covered sheet and cover with plastic wrap.  It needs one more short proof after your all your manhandling.  Preheat the oven to 375°F and let the loaf rise for 30 more minutes at room temp, until slightly puffy again.

puffy! it already looks so pretty 😍

Discard the plastic wrap.  Paint the loaf with the final egg wash and sprinkle with chunky sea salt (I used Maldon).   Place in the oven and begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes.  The loaf is done when the internal temp reads 190°F and the challah is a deep golden brown color.

holla for challah! (i’m sorry)

I’m telling you, this bread is as beautifully photogenic as my husband!

and he’s not just another pretty face…

Basic Challah Bread (by Molly Yeh from Sift Magazine)
Prep time: 3-3 1/2 hours
Bake time: 28-30 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients

-Dough:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) warm water (90°F works)
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 3/4 – 4 cups (16 to 17 oz) of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup veg oil (like canola)
  • 2 tablespoons honey

-Topping:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt (like Maldon)

Method:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in a medium-sized bowl with the water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Let it sit for 5 minutes or so, until it starts foaming.
  2. While waiting for the yeast to activate, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour with salt and remaining sugar.
  3. In a third, smaller bowl, whisk together two of the eggs with the veg oil and honey.
  4. Once the yeast has foamed up, add it to the flour in your mixer’s bowl and turn the mixer on low, using the dough hook attachment.  Immediately follow pouring in the egg mixture.  Let the dough hook work on low for a minute or two before bumping up the speed to medium.  Let it mix for 5 minutes, until smooth and slightly sticky.
  5. Oil a medium-sized bowl and add the dough to the bowl.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 2-2 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  6. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment.  Take the puffed dough out of the bowl and pat it into a 3″ x 12″ sized rectangle.
  7. From the rectangle, cut 3 strips of dough and roll each strip into a log.  Try to make each log symmetrical to the other.
  8. Pinch one of the ends of the three dough pieces together, and tuck the ends underneath themselves.  Begin braiding and try for a tight braid, as the dough will puff when baking.
  9. Once finished with the braid, pinch and tuck the other ends together and under, like the beginning the braid.  Place your braid on the parchment covered sheet and cover with plastic wrap.  Preheat the oven to 375°F and let the loaf rise for 30 more minutes at room temp, until slightly puffy again.
  10. Discard the plastic wrap.  Mix the topping of one egg yolk together with one tablespoon of sugar.  Paint the loaf with the final egg wash, then sprinkle with chunky sea salt (like Maldon).
  11. Place challah into the oven and bake at 375°F.  Begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes.  The loaf is done when the internal temp reads 190°F and the challah is a deep golden brown color.

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