Friday, July 15, 2011

Challah

I'm a firm believer that in order to make a really great french toast, you need to start with good challah (or another egg bread, like brioche). But this isn't a french toast recipe (that will be tomorrow). Because first, that's right, I had to make the challah. Well, I guess technically I didn't have to (I do pass a 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).


CHALLAH
Yield: 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups warm water (110º F.)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 egg
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 honey
adding egg
adding flour
adding yet more flour
can't...add...more...flour
must...finish...by...hand
now the real fun starts (kneading by hand)
kneading
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
still braiding
pinching/tucking under the end of the braid
braid (before rising)
braid risen and being brushed with egg
ready to bake
baked
Not the most even loaf I've ever made
(obviously the left side is larger than the right).
sliced
a round loaf I made last year

Challah is always round for Rosh Hashanah (it symbolizes
the circle of life and the cycle of the year). It's served with
honey (which symbolizes the hope for a sweet New Year).

Look at me...I actually remembered some Jewish
stuff (that, and I googled just to be sure)
.

4 comments:

Randi said...

Beautiful. I bet it's the best tasting challah.

Susan said...

But of course ;)

Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat) said...

It really is the best tasting challah. I had it last Rosh Hashanah and I was thinking about it for days and days. It even inspired me to go out and buy yeast! Not that I did anything with the yeast, but still! It's so good.

Andria Crowjoy said...

I like recognizing your hands in your photos.

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