Got back to my religious roots – Judaism – with this month’s challenge. Challah, that braided loaf of sweet, fluffy bread, is something we bless with the “motzi” on Friday nights, before ripping into it and devouring it. The next morning, you can make great French toast out of it. (A trick we learned from one of my favorite brunch spots in Oakland, Cockadoodle Cafe, is to roll the dipped challah slices in graham cracker crumbs. It’s divine.)
May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
I went the easy route, since I didn’t have much time on the Saturday morning I made my challah, and, generally, the simpler the recipe, the less likely I am to f— it up. Fortunately, Ruth provided some great recipes and several different braiding options which she presented in a video. I went with Temple David’s simple challah recipe (which, since it was taken down from Temple David’s site, I’ve reprinted below), and one of the 6-braid patterns.
The challah loaf ended up being a little oblong – I think I rolled my dough ropes out too thin. Next time, I’ll just make the ropes shorter and fatter, to end up with a short, plump loaf. The texture, however, was awesome – super fluffy and soft, delicately sweet, and slightly yellow from the egg that each loaf had in its dough.
No question that I’ll make this again. It was pretty simple to make, and tastes a lot better than the expensive loaves you buy in the markets.
Here served with homemade veggie tapenade (i.e. no anchovies), cotswold cheese, a couple of goat cheeses, and hummus, courtesy of Mollie Stone’s. A few more pics of this delicious challah after the jump.
Pati’s Easy Challah
(originally from Temple David’s site)
4 cups (960 ml) (360 gm/20 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) (11¼ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) package rapid rise yeast
½ (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water
1. Measure flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, beat until well combined. Cover with a dish towel, let stand 30 min.
4. Add two eggs to the dough, beat again.
5. By hand or with your dough hook knead in the remaining flour mixture. Knead approximately 10 minutes.
6. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour.
7. Punch down dough, knead approximately 3 minutes.
8. Divide dough in two. Shape each half as desired (3, 4, or 6 strand braid).
9. Place loaves on parchment covered or greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise one hour.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
11. Brush loaves with egg wash.
12. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, bake until golden crust forms (about 25-30 minutes).
13. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.