Challah Bread

– Kaajal Pradhan Lamba

The lovely aroma of bread in the house is just too appealing .I decided to make this bread for a  Bread Bake off happening on Chef at Large, a Facebook food page.  A good friend and a wonderful baker herself – Anshie , suggested that I should try the 6 braid Challah, a Jewish bread usually made on Sabbath and holidays. When she shared a link for me to go through, my jaws dropped…how was I ( who was taking baby steps, when it came to bread making) supposed to pull that one off. But she had full faith in me and she goaded me to go ahead and give it a shot. Boy am I happy that i did. So at the end of the day her faith in me conquered an I was able to make this beautiful bread, which not only looks beautiful but tastes lovely too and my kids just could not get enough of it.

Note:  I followed the recipe on http://www.finecooking.com . They have a video showing how to braid as well.

Kaajus-Challah

Ingredients:

  • 31/2 Cup All purposeFlour
  • 2 Tsp Instant Yeast
  • 1/4 Cup warm water
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 11/4 Tsp Salt

Glaze:

  • 1 Egg lightly beaten
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds for sprinkling on top

Method :

  • In a large bowl, mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of the flour.
  • Add the warm water, stir, and let this mixture sit until it starts to puff up, 15-to 20-minutes.
  • Add the eggs, oil, honey, and salt; stir until well combined.
  • The mixture will remain lumpy—this is fine.
  • Add the remaining flour and mix the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until fairly smooth, about 3-4 minutes. The dough should feel very firm and will be hard to knead. If it’s soft and sticky, add more flour until it’s very firm.
  • Transfer the dough to a large, clean container and cover it well and let it rise until doubled in bulk and very soft to the touch, about 2 hours.
  • Line an insulated baking sheet with parchment or oiled foil. If you don’t have an insulated sheet, stack two sheets together (this keeps the bottom of the bread from over browning during baking).

Braiding the Dough :

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle a little more flour over it. Spread and flatten the dough a bit,cut it into six equal pieces.
  • Set aside the dough pieces, cover them lightly with plastic, and brush all the flour off the work surface. Have a small bowl of water handy.
  • Using no flour, roll a piece of dough with a rolling pin into a very thin sheet, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick (don’t worry about the shape ). The dough may stick to the work surface; this is all right—just nudge it gently with a dough scraper.
  • Tightly roll up the sheet like a carpet to form a strand.
  • Roll the strand back and forth between your hands until it’s thin, very even, and 12 to 15 inches long.
  • At the ends of the strand, angle the outer edge of your hands into the work surface as you’re rolling to make the ends pointy and the strand thicker in the middle (This will help you get a football-shaped loaf).
  • Repeat the rolling out, rolling up, and elongating steps with the remaining five pieces of dough, rolling them out to the same length. Lightly sprinkle all the strands with flour to prevent them from sticking to one another during proofing.
  • Arrange the strands parallel to one another.
  • At one end, gather and pinch the strands very tightly together.
  • Weight the end with a heavy canister to keep the braid from moving and to leave your hands free, and braid closely, following the illustrations below. Lightly tap each end of the loaf with your palms to tuck it under the loaf.

Illustration Courtesy : http://www.finecooking.com

how to braid challah

1. Move the second-to-the-right strand to the far-left position.

how to braid challah

2. Move the far-right strand left over two strands, to the center position (spread the strands apart to make room).

how to braid challah

3. Move the new second-to-the-left strand over to the far right position.

how to braid challah

4. Move the far-left strand (the same strand you moved in step 1) over two strands to the center position. Now repeat the steps.

IMG_4367

  • Transfer the braid to the lined baking sheet and cover it loosely but thoroughly with plastic wrap.
  • Let proof until doubled in bulk , about 2 hours, depending on room temperature

Baking :

  • Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.
  • Just before baking, brush the dough with the beaten egg.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if using.

IMG_4368

  • With a thin wooden skewer, poke the bread deeply all over (the holes will prevent air pockets and help the bread keep its shape during baking).
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the challah 180 degrees and bake until the bread is a dark, burnished brown, about another 15 minutes. (If the challah is browning too rapidly cover it loosely with foil and let it finish baking. Don’t remove the loaf too soon, as you’ll risk under baking.)
  • Let it cool thoroughly on a rack.

IMG_4376

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