Friday, November 2, 2012

Foodie Friday: Challah!

We've had a busy week around here but I wanted to make sure to virtually drop in with one of my favorite Jewish recipes that's I've been making since college. CHALLAH! Don't get me wrong, in my Jewish sorority I picked up some of the best recipes. Amazing kugels, knishes, salads, dips and roasted/cured meat that I really L.O.V.E. but fresh, delicious bread? Nothing quite tops it in my book! It's important to note that having a stand mixer makes the process of challah prep so.much.easier. so I would highly recommend using one if you have that luxury (I am forever grateful for our navy blue Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer that my Pop's older sister Ann gave us for a wedding gift-- such a kitchen work-horse).

yeild: 2 large braided loaves
2 packets of yeast
1/3 cup plus 3 tbspns white sugar
2 cups of water, separated
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tblspn salt
2 eggs, separate yolks from whites
7 cups bread flour
Optional: sprinkle toppings like kosher salt, poppy or sesame seeds

1.  Warm 1 cup of water slightly (don't make it HOT just warm-- you can easily stick your finger in it) then add to the bowl of your stand mixer along with yeast and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for 20 minutes.

2.  Once the yeast is frothy and has "grown" in size, mix in the flour, salt, egg yolks, oil, remaining sugar and water. I like to alternate between a cup of flour and a wet ingredient, mixing in between to reduce the floury mess that can occur if you try to add all of the flour in one step.

3.  Mix using dough hook for a few minutes until a ball is formed and dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. You made need a little more flour so just watch during this step to make sure a distinct ball has formed. The dough should be sticky but shouldn't stick all over your hands when it's ready so add a little more flour if that happens. **If you aren't using a stand mixer, just knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and sticking together nicely-- this takes around 10 minutes.

4.  Move your dough ball to a large "greased" bowl (sprayed with PAM or oiled) and cover with a WET towel or paper towels so that it doesn't stick to the dough.

5.  Place in a warm location (in the winter I turn on the pre-heat for our oven for 2 minutes then turn it off and stick the bowl in there, otherwise in warmer weather I just leave it on the counter) and allow to rise for one hour.
6.  Remove towel, punch down dough and re-cover and allow to rise for another hour.

7.  Cut your dough in half. With each half, cut into 3 pieces and braid them together. Place both braids on a "greased" baking sheet. You can also braid with 4 or even  strands-- go to YouTube to find instructions, I like this one.

8. Pre-heat oven to 365 degrees. Brush tops of braided dough with the egg whites and if you've chosen to use sprinkle-on toppings, this is when you put them onto the braids. :)

9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.


I love to cut the bread and freeze slices for use as toast or croutons with soups or as panini sandwiches. It freezes and thaws out beautifully. This is really a perfect idea if you need to bring something to a family or friend gathering, large or small. My favorite dips to serve with challah are hummus and olive dip but just by itself, this challah is delicious.

Have a great weekend everyone :)

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