Giving bread a try {Challah}

18 Oct

As the seasons change and the nights become a little crisper and cooler, there’s nothing much better than the smell of baking bread in your kitchen. I’ve never really made bread to speak of before, but it seemed that challah would be a great choice for this time of year.  I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at first; but with a detailed recipe from a trusted source in hand (Smitten Kitchen), I was ready to go.  The original recipe is for two loaves, but I have changed it to read for one as I made it below.

{Challah}

Time: 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours for rising

Yield: 1 loaf

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing bowl
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins, if using {I didn’t}
  • poppy seeds for sprinkling

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 tablespoon sugar in 1 scant cup lukewarm water. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. {You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but I did it by hand and it wasn’t bad.}

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour {I was busy crafting at this point, and let it rise for more like 45 minutes}.

At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaf. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, form the dough into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 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. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Place braided loaf on a greased cookie sheet.

Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaf. Either freeze bread or let rise another hour. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush the loaf again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool on a rack.

Cooling with the cardamom snaps!

Close-up {drooling at this point}

The Smitten Kitchen also has some other tips for making bread that might be helpful if you’re not a big bread baker; but as a novice, I found this recipe very easy to follow.  When I first cut into my bread {it sliced like butter!} and took a bite, I’m pretty sure I said something like “I can’t believe I made this.”  The texture and flavor were spot on {in my humble opinion} … soft on the inside with that little bit of sweetness. Yum!  It was perfect for breakfast and snacks the next couple of days, and I can’t wait to make it again!  Enjoy!

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2 Responses to “Giving bread a try {Challah}”

  1. Karin Tracy October 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Can’t go wrong with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen!

  2. kpolon October 20, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Agreed! The pictures alone make me hungry, and their recipes are so reliable!

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