Challah Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 pkgs. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 large whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • flour for dusting worktop
  • oil or spray for greasing bowl
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for egg wash
  • coarse cornmeal for dusting baking pan
  • poppy or sesame seeds for topping

 

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350º. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Add the egg, egg yolks, oil, sugar, 4 cups flour and salt. Mix well until the the dough comes away from the side of the bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead well, adding additional flour 1/4 cup at a time, until it is firm and smooth. This is a firm dough, so keep adding flour a little at a time while kneading, until it is smooth and elastic – about 10-15 minutes. You may need a little more than 5 cups.
  • Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl, turn dough so that the entire surface is coated, cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place, until it has tripled in volume. Test by poking your finger into the dough. If the indentation stays, your dough is fully proofed.Turn the dough back out onto your work surface, punch it down, and divide it in half. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare a large baking sheet by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal.
  • With your hands, roll each dough half into a long, fat snake, slightly larger at one end and tapering to a smaller end. With the larger end at the center, start coiling the rest of the “snake” around it. When you reach the end, tuck it underneath the coil, pressing it into the bottom of the bread.
  • Place each coil onto the prepared baking sheet, and brush with the egg wash. Put the baking sheet back in your warm, draft-free spot, and allow the breads to rise again, until doubled (about an hour). Brush the fully risen breads with the egg wash again, and sprinkle on the seeds, if using.
  • Bake for about 35 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, cover them with a “tent” of parchment paper or torn-open brown paper bag. This will prevent them from browning too quickly. Breads should be a nice dark mahogany brown, and the bottoms should be well-browned. They should sound hollow when the bottoms are thumped and there shouldn’t be any “give” when you press on the top. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.
  • When thoroughly cooled, you can place the breads in a plastic freezer bag to store or freeze for future use.

 

*Note: You can use a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. If you do: After mixing the ingredients and adding sufficient flour to get the dough to form a ball around the dough hook, run the mixer at low speed, “kneading” the dough for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it during this time, since as a firm dough, your mixer may want to take a wander.

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