When my friend Karen posted a photo on Facebook of two tantalizing loaves of challah bread she’d made, I was immediately captivated. Her breads were works of art. Though I’ve never made bread before, inspiration hit and my mind was off and racing, envisioning all the possibilities.
Karen gladly shared the recipe with me (which she had gotten from a friend) and agreed to let me share it and her photo with you.
- 2 packages dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt
- ½ cup of sugar OR ¾ of a cup of honey
- 1 ¾ cups hot water (under 180 degrees)
- 6-8 cups of unbleached flour (divided)
- 5 room-temperature large eggs (warmed in warm water if needed; SAVE one egg for the glaze)
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
- OPTIONAL – Karen added 1 ½ cups of golden raisins
- OPTIONAL – poppy seeds as a topping
Using a whisk:
- mix dry yeast, salt, sugar (or honey) and water in a large bowl
- slowly mix in 2 cups of flour (gives the eggs something to hold onto)
- slowly mix in oil and 4 eggs
- add at least 4 more cups of flour (1/2 cup at a time; up to a total of 8 cups); keep adding flour until the dough isn’t sticky and can be kneaded by hand
- knead 8-10 minutes on a floured surface until the dough has faint satiny wrinkles; add flour as needed
- lightly oil another large bowl; add dough and cover with a towel
- proof (let rise) in the oven under 200 degrees or in a warm spot for 1 hour (test with 2 fingers pushed in dough up to the first knuckle; if the indent remains, it’s ready)
- punch down and knead until air bubbles are out; cover with towel and proof again (2nd rise) for ½ hour
- punch down; divide dough in half (2 loaves) and braid
- divide each half into 3; roll into 12-inch ropes with tapered ends; lay them parallel to each other and braid from the middle; flip around and braid the other half “under” (like Dutch braids); tuck pinched ends
- place on greased baking sheets; cover with towel and proof (3rd rise) for ½ hour
- heat oven to 350 degrees
- brush loaves with beaten egg to glaze
- bake 20 minutes
- remove from oven and glaze again to cover all the newly risen parts
- sprinkle with poppy seeds if you like (Karen did not have poppy seeds on hand)
- bake an additional 30-40 minutes; when a test from the underside of the loaves comes out clean, your challah is done; don’t judge by color
- cool your challah beauties on a wire rack (and in my case, resist the temptation to tear in a feast)
My takes on the challah bread include adding Italian seasoning, rosemary or Parmesan cheese to make it savory. Adding dried cranberries or cinnamon sugar (instead of adding just sugar as the recipe calls for) would work well for my many sweet teeth. Would chocolate chips or cinnamon chips work, I wonder. Seems like the possibilities are endless!
Have you ever made challah or other breads?
Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.