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29 September 2011

Oh I’m so punny……………..

ANYWAYS…for those of you who didn’t get the pun, challah is pronounced “Hollah” (with that gargly, back of the throat sound for the H). Moving on, this post is actually long overdue. I made challah a few weeks ago and I didn’t make any time to write about it. But now here’s my chance. As you can probably see from the picture, challah is bread. Jewish bread in fact. It is a special bread, meant only to be eaten during Sabbath and holidays, but, being not Jewish, I just made it cause it’s delicious and looks great. My main inspiration for making it actually came from my childhood. I already said I’m not Jewish, so that may not make any sense. And, truthfully, I didn’t actually eat any challah when I was little. It was the smell. Oh the smell. Heavenly seems appropriate. You see, my older brother went to preschool at a Jewish community centre and I would always go with my mom to pick him up. Every friday they would make challah. Every friday the sweet smell would encompass the entire classroom and hallway leading to it. My mouth waters thinking about it. I don’t remember even eating any. It’s amazing how such a strong memory can be created from only a smell. So there’s my inspiration. Believe me, the smell does not disappoint.

On to the recipe! This was actually my first time making bread and I got to try out the dough hook on our new mixer, which sure beats hand-kneading for half an hour. Here’s what you’re going to knead (hahaha I’m so funny……):

Six Braided Challah (adapted from Leite’s Culinaria):

  • 1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg + 1 tsp sugar for egg wash

Here’s how to make it:

1. Combine yeast and water on low speed with paddle attachment. Mix for a minute or until yeast is dissolved.

2. Add the sugar. Mix again to combine. Add about 1/2 a cup of the flour. Mix some more.

3. Add the eggs. Increase the speed slightly and incorporate well. Add 1 more cup of flour. Mix at medium-low speed, then add the oil and salt.

4. Switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining 4 cups of flour and work into the dough on medium speed. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides, if necessary.

5. Let the mixer knead the dough for 15 minutes, turning of the mixer every few minutes to let the motor rest (it may get quite hot). Add extra flour if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl. After kneading, the dough should be firm, smooth and elastic.

6. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, turning it to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until tripled in volume (1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the weather).

7. Here comes the hard part: the braid. Punch down the dough, then place on a floured board and form it into a long flat loaf. Cut it into 6 equal pieces, and roll them each into a thick strand. The actual braiding process is quite difficult to explain in words, so watch this video instead. Just make sure that your braided dough is symmetrical once you’re done. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise another 30 minutes.

Six-armed dough monster

My (mostly) successful braid

8. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

9. Make an egg wash by beating the egg and sugar together. Brush it onto the dough, making sure to get some in the cracks and crevices.

Ready for the oven!

10. Place dough on a baking sheet and position it on the center rack of your oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. If it is becoming too browned, place some foil on top of the bread. To test for doneness, tap the bottom of the loaf and it should sound hollow. Allow to cool before enjoying!

I had a good time making challah and it turned out pretty good! This sweet bread can be eaten plain (my preference), with jam or even be made into some awesome French toast. And if you don’t want to do the braid, you could always do a simple 3-stranded braid (like for girly hair) or bake it in a loaf pan. Don’t worry, it took me three tries to get the braid right. Until next time, happy eating!

I should really post more….

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 September 2011 7:39 pm

    Its 4:00 am in the morning here…I still have to catch up on sleep…and that bread looks gorgeously tempting. What a way to start any day!

    • 29 September 2011 7:48 pm

      Thanks! If you make it, your house will smell amazing!

  2. Kelsey permalink
    4 January 2012 10:27 pm

    More posts please!

  3. 31 January 2012 3:14 am

    your Challlah looks perfect. and yes, isn’t it amazing how a certain smell can trigger very specific memories? thanks for sharing this!

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