Sup internet. 2024 is almost here! 😱 Anyway, I'm going to write about challah! I have associations with challah and the holidays, although I'm not sure where I got that idea. This recipe is from a friend's friend's grandmother. And this was the first time I made bread alone!!
-1 cup hot tap water (not boiling). I tried to get this between 100 and 110 degrees F.
-2.5-3 cups flour
-1 packages active dry yeast (this equates to 2 1/4 teaspoons)
-1 tablespoon sugar
-3 eggs, or 1 egg and some neutral-tasting oil
-1/2 tablespoon salt
-2 tbsp margarine
-sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
-some neutral-tasting oil
N.B. Measurements will yield one medium-sized loaf. You can also double everything to get one huge loaf.
Just a heads up that for best results you'll want around 2 days for this: one day to prepare the dough and another day to bake.
Part/Day 1: Dough Prep
First off, combine 1 cup of flour and the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, and stir well. Then add softened margarine.
Then, add 1 cup of the hot water, all at once. Now it's time to beat the dough. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer, or 3 minutes by hand. Now my batter looks like this:
Add an egg and 1/2 cup flour and beat once again: 1 minute with a mixer, or 2 minutes by hand. While beating, scrape the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula.
Stir in the remaining flour; because the dough now has 1.5 cups of flour, the remaining amount is 1 to 1.5 cups flour. Use just enough flour so that you get a soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl easily. Then, roll your dough onto a floured work surface and round it into a ball.
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. I do this by using the heel of my hand to extend the dough away from me. I then rotate the dough slightly and repeat.
Then place the dough back in the bowl, cover under a damp kitchen towel, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Once the 5 minutes is up, punch the dough several times and place it back on your floured work surface.
The next step is to cut the dough into 3 equal strips and to form these strips into round strands. This is done with the same technique as baguette formation, which you can see in this timestamped video (watch 7:50-8:19).
To get challah's signature look, we need to tightly braid these strands. This took some practice but eventually I got it down. Tuck in each end of the braid.
Oil a parchment paper and place it on a baking sheet. Carefully transfer the challah to the baking sheet and give the challah an egg or oil wash.
Then loosely cover with oiled parchment paper and cling wrap on top of that. It is more important for the covering to be loose, so that the dough can expand, then for the covering to cover everything.
Place in the fridge and let it refrigerate anywhere from 2 to 48 hours. I had mine resting overnight.
Part/Day Two: Baking
Remove your challah from the fridge. It should be noticeably larger. So pretty 🥰
Make sure that the dough has 10 minutes to rest at room temperature before baking. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and in the meantime give the dough a second egg or oil wash.
Then bake for 30-40 minutes, or once it looks ready. (If you decide to double all the measurements, this is probably more like 35-45 minutes).
This dough is so soft and so yummy. I love how it pulls apart into pieces easily because of the braiding. '
I happily eat this bread by itself (or with salted butter). Homemade bread is just on a whole other level. There's something so cozy about eating your own baked bread.
I'm looking forward to more bread making in the new year. Have a happy 2024!