May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
Have I mentioned I'm addicted to baking bread?
'Cuz I am.
So, I was ridiculously excited when I saw this month's Daring Bakers Challenge was to bake challah bread! Challah bread is special braided bread from the Jewish culture. Even though I'm not Jewish, I had already been completely on the challah train! I'm not sure if you knew this, but challah bread makes THE BEST french toast, and can also be used in some other great bread-based recipes. It's also delicious all by itself :). Plus, if you want, you can easily fold mix-ins into this recipe and have like chocolate challah, etc. You can read more about that in the recipe, though :).
On a side note: challah. Say it. It's fun to say.
Now say it in baby talk.
Because everything sounds funnier in baby talk.
Michael and I speak baby talk to each other pretty much all day every day. It drives everyone crazy. Makes certain people uncomfortable. But we find it "hilawium".
It am be hawd to twanslate baby talk into da witings of da blog. Youse just has to twy to heaw it, tay?
don't judge me too much. Please come back and read again. I promise I'll refrain from the baby talk :P.
Whole Wheat Challah Bread
Adapted from Ruth's "Go-To" Whole Wheat Challah
- 2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 tsp.)
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
- ½ cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) unsalted butter – room temperature
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
- 2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
- Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2½ to 5 oz)
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for egg wash/glaze
- Optional: any mix-ins you think might be nice. I want to try folding chopped chocolate in sometime. Ruth says: "Raisins, chocolate chips and other additions can be kneaded into the dough, loaves can be topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, vanilla sugar or other flavorful sprinklings, and filled challahs can be a lot of fun and very tasty, too! Braiding and shaping, though, become more difficult when the rolled strands have fillings in them."
- In a large bowl (or in your stand mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy.
- With paddle attachment (or handheld mixer, or spoon), beat eggs, sugar, butter, and salt into yeast mixture. Then, add in flours and oats.
- With dough hook, or by hand, knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
- Form dough into a round ball, oil the bowl and dough slightly, and cover lightly with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.
- Once dough has doubled, punch it down. Cover with towel again and allow to rise 30-60 more minutes.
- Punch the dough down again and divide into 2.
- Shape each half as desired (3, 4, 6 strand braid, etc.) I used a 3 strand braid-which is just like braiding hair, I think it's the easiest. There's a lot of info. about the symbolism of the braids/strands, etc. You should definitely read up on it! Making strands: There are two basic methods for forming the strands used to braid challah. The first, and easiest, is to simply roll snakes between your hands like when working with clay or play dough. The second method is to use a rolling pin to roll out a flat disc of dough, then using your hands to roll the disc into a snake, rolling the snake on the counter with your fingers to achieve the length you need. This second method does result in a better rise, but either way works well. Whichever method you use, form your strands such that they are thinner at the ends and fuller in the middle. This will help your challah rise in the center.
|What my formed loaves looked like pre-rising.|
- Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking sheet(s). Cover with towel and let rise for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Brush loaves with egg wash (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
- Bake 25-40 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Cool on a wire rack before serving.
Check back tomorrow to see what delicious dessert I made using this bread!