Challah Bread Recipe
There are few dishes that are as therapeutic as baking and breaking a loaf of bread. I have said this before and will say this again - nothing beats the taste, flavour, pleasure and comfort of baking your own bread. Once you get a hang of it, you will never look back to those dry, chemical infused, absolute dead beat, commercially produced bread. It's like comparing hotel food vs mom's food...hmmm..rhetorically!! But hey, I have come a long way from baking rocks of dough to airy, well risen bread ...mission accomplished.
Isn't she a beauty??
I've been a member of the Food 52 Baking club and since I also attended weekend classes at Lavonne - which included International Breads. It changed the way I looked at flour, gluten formation, testing dough, activating yeast and getting my breads baked to perfection. Yes - baking is science, involves technique, exact measurements, loads of practise and a wee bit of patience. That's all you need to be a good old home baker to dish out some crack-a-lacking golden beauties off your OTG. So this challah recipe is from one of the books featured for club members called Smitten. I have varied the braiding pattern to be honest, cause the actual challah braid is way to complicated for a amateur baker like me.
P.S There are tons of videos on YouTube which will tell you how to braid your dough. So go on experiment and let your creativity dough..I mean flow :)
Also this bread tastes great if you let it rest overnight and use it the next day to make some delicious french toast. Because the texture of this bread soaks up that whisked egg vanilla mixture really well and tastes yum with a drizzle of cinnamon honey and whipped cream. You can also use it to scoop out those rich gravies - that's the way I personally prefer devouring my Challah bread. Or for the lazy one's - simply slather it up with a nice heap of butter and drown in all glory of baking that perfect fancy looking bread y'all. (recommend the Amul Herb & Garlic Butter)
INGREDIENTS: Yields 2 loaves
5 tsp. active dry yeast
1-3/4 cup warm water
⅔ cup sugar
½ cup olive oil, plus extra to grease a bowl
5 eggs, plus 1 extra for an egg wash before baking (6 eggs total)
1-2 Tbsp. salt, depending on your taste (I use 1-1/2 Tbsp. or so)
8 to 8-1/2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading/dusting
1. In a large bowl or your stand mixer : mix warm water and yeast. Let this sit, undisturbed until you notice that mixture has turned frothy - which means yeast has been activated. To this add oil and sugar.
2. Next add the flour and mix it well. Add in the eggs one at a time mixing it with the dough at a low speed until its blended well.
3. When all your 8 cups of flour is added and blended with the eggs, you will notice that the dough is a little sticky which is okay since the gluten is yet to form. Continue to blend the dough in your mixer until a smooth, soft & pliable dough is formed.
4. Dust a clean surface with some flour and knead the dough by using your hands until it forms a smooth consistency. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Do not add additional flour at this stage.
5. Oil a bowl and place your kneaded dough, cover it with a damp cloth and let it proof until it doubles in size.
6. After the dough has doubled in size, transfer it onto a flat surface. Punch out the air and knead it for a couple of minutes and let it either rest in your bowl to proof for second time OR let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight.
7. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions, roll them out into thick strings by using your hands. You may want to follow a you tube video to braid the dough. Since it is easier to see and follow this technique.
8. Once you have finished braiding it, let it rise for one last time. Brush the dough with an egg wash before placing it in a pre heated oven 200C.
9. Let it bake for 20 minutes, until it forms a nice golden crust. Once baked, immediately remove it from the oven and brush it with generous quantity of unsalted butter.