Friday, August 14, 2009
It's been a while since I've had to purchase bread. Once I got into the routine of making a few loaves each week, even sticking some in the freezer for an emergency, it's been rather nice to offer my family some home baked goods. Even forcing me to find the time .. but, I have to admit, the stuff off the sprawlmart shelves can't compare. Here's another recipe I've been perfecting .. and can make with ease after a few go-arounds.
The same bread book that is mentioned in this post was used. If you don't want to make the bread the old fashioned way (by hand), you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook to do the kneading, or tweak the recipe to use in your bread machine (see below).
Challah Bread .. makes two loaves
4-1/2 to 5-1/2 cups unsifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup softened butter*
pinch of saffron
1 cup very warm tap water
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)
In a large bowl thoroughly mix 1-1/4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and the dry active yeast. Add the butter.
Dissolve the saffron in very warm tap water. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat two minutes at medium speed of electric mixer (I used a hand mixer (Kitchenaid) with just one beater), scraping bowl occasionally. Add 3 eggs, 1 egg white (reserve yolk for later use), and 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about eight to ten minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; turn out onto lighly floured board. Divide in half. Divide each half into 2 pieces, one about 1/3 of dough and the other about 2/3 of dough. Divide larger piece into 3 equal pieces (you're going to be braiding ladies/gentlemen). Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Braid the ropes together; pinch ends to seal. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope. Braid the ropes together; place on top of large braid. Seal braids together at ends. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough to form second loaf.
(recipe makes two large loaves of double stacked, braided bread .. with that picture in mind, it's not all that hard to make this recipe .. see photo of unbaked bread)
Beat together remaining egg yolk and 1 teaspoon cold water; brush loaves with egg mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seed. Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about 1 hour. (a closed oven with no heat will work).
Bake at 400 F, 18-25 minutes, or until done. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.
The taste and texture is similar to a croissant roll .. just not as buttery rich. Makes delicious toast and good sandwiches.
Here's a challah bread recipe I've adapted for the bread machine.
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3-3/4 cups of unsifted (bread) flour
1-1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup butter (cut into chunks)*
either make this single loaf dough and bake as directed above or bake at a medium setting following your bread machine directions.
*since challah bread is a Jewish egg bread, the original recipe called for using margarine .. which is kosher ... I'm not fond of margarine .. and am not Jewish nor kosher .. so prefer butter ;)