Challah at your Girl
I love bread. It’s one of my favorite things. I love that carb life. One of my most favorite of all of the breads is the beautifully braided, perfectly browned loaf of challah.
For those not familiar, the challah (plural being challot) is a Jewish egg braid, usually braided up, and eaten on the Sabbath as well as during many holidays. No matter what your religion, challah is delicious and you will want to make some.
Challah is one of the easiest breads to make, and will impress all of your friends.
You will need:
Flour – Have at least five cups on hand. The amount you need will vary
Water – 1 cup of lukewarm water
Yeast – 2 teaspoons, or one of those little packets will work
Eggs – Three, beaten
Salt – Pinch or two.
Sugar – ¼ cup, plus a pinch
Oil – ¼ cup of whatever you have on hand, plus a little extra. I used olive, but any vegetable oil will work
How to do it:
Put some water into a mixing bowl. The water should be warm, but not hot. To be precise, it should be 100F, which should feel like just above skin temperature. It’s cooler than you think. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, and throw in a pinch of sugar. Leave it for five or ten minutes until it’s frothy.
Stir up the frothy yeast, and throw in two beaten eggs, and the ¼ cup of oil. Mix it all up!
In a separate bowl, sift together four cups of flour, the sugar, and the salt.
Make a little hole in the middle of the flour mixture and dump in the yeast mixture. Mix together with a large spoon until it gets too hard to do that, and then mix with your hands until it forms a rough dough. It should stick to the sides of the bowl still, and may be a little lumpy. We’ll fix that next with….
Kneading. Dump out your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough with the fleshy heel of your hand for eight minutes, adding flour as necessary. My dough usually eats up another ¾ of a cup or so of flour in this process. If you aren’t into kneading or are really lazy, you can throw the thing into a stand mixer and beat the crap out of it for five minutes.
After you’re done kneading, the dough should be smooth, and able to pack into a tidy little dough ball. Stick this in a greased mixing bowl (light coating of oil works) and let sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size, or about an hour.
After an hour, take your now-big dough ball and get ready for the braid-o-palooza.
Split that ball into as many chunks as you need strands. Anywhere from 3 to six is fine. This will deflate your dough ball, but no sweat. So. Form those dough balls into strands and start braiding. Just like hair! When you’re done, tuck the ends underneath the loaf to puff it out and make it look more finished. Set it on your baking sheet and wait about 45 minutes.
Okay. Now it’s time to preheat the oven. 350F. While you’re waiting, take that last egg and brush it all over that loaf. That’s what makes it get extra brown and pretty.
After your oven has preheated, stick that loaf in the oven. It will take half an hour to bake, and you should flip the pan around halfway through to make sure it’s baking evenly.
When it’s time to come out, it should be dark brown everywhere that you touched with that egg wash, and when you tap on the top it should sound hollow.
Cut and enjoy!
Now that you’re mastered the basic challah, make it your own. Add some raisins, spices, maybe nuts or seeds. Mix it up! Send me your challah creations on twitter, or instagram. I'd love to see them.