If you have never tried Challah before the best way to describe it is like brioche. It’s a slightly sweet bread with a good amount of eggs and oil. Challah makes the best french toast and is delicious with scrambled eggs.
Usually I buy my Challah from the bakers but I’ve been told by so many people that you get more enjoyment when eating your challah when it’s been made by your own hands so I decided to give it a go.
The Challah in the photograph was my first attempt, I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out so I didn’t bother with the egg wash or decorations (poppy seeds are my favourite). I have to say even though my Challah had no wash or decor it tasted delicious and didn’t last five minutes when removed from the oven, this was probably due to the sweet aroma that had filled the house during baking!
Now that I’ve been making Challah on a regular basis I like to use two coats of egg wash to give it the lacquer look that the bakers have. I also do three rises a tip from Joan Nathan in her Challah recipe.
Makes 2 loaves
1 1/2 packets dry yeast
100g Sugar plus 1 tablespoon
118 ml vegetable oil
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
1000g Strong white bread flour
Poppy seeds for sprinkling.
1. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 450ml lukewarm water.
2. Whisk the oil into the yeast mixture, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt.
3. Gradually add the flour. When the dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. I find it easier to use my Kenwood chef on a low setting to do the mixing and kneading.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
5. Clean out and grease the bowl and return the dough to bowl. Cover with cling film and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
6. Punch down the dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
7. To make a 3 braid loaf challah half the dough and cut each half into 3 balls, roll each ball into strands, pinch the tops together and plait like you would your hair, tuck the ends underneath. To make a 6-braid straight challah take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided, tuck the ends underneath. Place braided loaves on a greased baking tray.
8. Beat the remaining egg and brush it on to loaves.
9. preheat the oven to 190 degrees and brush the loaves with the egg wash again. Sprinkle the bread with seeds, if using.
10. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.