Monday, January 2, 2012

Challah

Last night I was inspired to make an egg-based yeast bread, seeing as how I never made one before. Challah is something that I like and I think it looks nice, so I decided I would make this traditional Jewish bread.

This recipe is not for inexperienced bread bakers nor the impatient type. (This requires almost a full day to make properly.)

Challah:
Starter:
3/4 tablespoon dry yeast (3/4 of a package, 5.5 grams)
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water (105F to 115F)

Dough:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups flour

Topping:
1 large egg
Sesame seeds

1. Mix the ingredients for the starter together and let them develop 5 to 10 minutes.
2. While the starter matures, mix the oil, 2 eggs, salt and the 1/4 cup of sugar together in a large bowl.
3. After the starter is done developing and it's nice and foamy, add the starter to the egg mixture and mix well.
4. Slowly add the flour to the wet ingredients until the dough beings to form.
5. When the dough is holding together, flour a work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary.
6. When you're done kneading, lightly oil a bowl and let the dough rise for two hours in a warm room, with the bowl lightly covered with plastic wrap.
7. Punch the dough down and let it rise again, only this time in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight.
8. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
9. Punch down the dough and split it into 6 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece out into 1 foot logs with your hands.
10. Place the logs on parchment paper in groups of 2 and then wet one end of each with some water. Pinch the ends together to start the loaf. Braid the groups of logs until you reach the end. At the end, wet the ends and pinch them together.
11. Whisk the egg thoroughly and wash the bread liberally with the egg. Generously coat the bread with sesame seeds.
12. Preheat an oven to 375F and let the loaf rise during this time. When the oven is preheated, bake the bread on a cookie sheet for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
13. Remove the loaf and let it cool on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Serve or slice how you wish.
Before the bake

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