Zaro's at Penn Station on my way home from work). But unfortunately, they couldn't guarantee me theirs was safe for a peanut allergy. So I kind of did have to bake it. But really, it doesn't take much work since most of the time is just waiting for the dough to rise. So if you're planning on hanging around the house anyway, why not take out your frustrations out on some challah dough? All that kneading and punching is a great stress reliever (and way less risky than say, punching your boss in the face).
Yield: 2 loaves
2 1/2 cups warm water (110º F.)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)
1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.
2. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for 5 minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 375º F.
4. Beat remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
5. Bake at 375º F. for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.
from Joan Callaway
|yeast, up close|
|yeast in water|
It used to creep me out a little that they're alive
and multiplying, but then I realized I'm about three
billion times they're size (so bring it yeast).
|adding yet more flour|
|now the real fun starts (kneading by hand)|
|in the bowl, starting its rest|
|1 1/2 hours later |
(I believe " wow " is the word you're searching for.)
|punching down the dough|
(I take it back, that's the real fun.)
|divided in half|
|each half divided roughly into thirds|
|rolled into ropes|
|here's where you can really see |
why I said " divided roughly into thirds "
|starting the braid|
|pinching/tucking under the end of the braid|
|braid (before rising)|
|braid risen and being brushed with egg|
|ready to bake|
Not the most even loaf I've ever made
(obviously the left side is larger than the right).