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A sight of braided beauty, challah bread is as delicious as it looks.
Being the Jewish/Atheist, anti-consumerist, eating machine that I am, I have fond memories of making challah bread at summer camps when I was young. So, to share the fun, here's a Challah bread recipe for the holiday season.
- 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk (for brushing the bread)
- ¼ cup neutral-flavoured vegetable oil
- Large mixing bowl
- Bench scraper or sharp knife
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl, and add a healthy pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand until you see a thin frothy layer across the top. This means that the yeast is active and ready to use.
2. Mix together 4 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs, egg yolk , and oil. Mix these together, then add the yeast mixture.
4. Mix everything together until you create dough that is difficult to mix. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes, when the dough is soft, smooth and holds a ball shape then it is finished.
5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean damp cloth and let rise for 1 ½ hours or until dough has doubled in size.
6. Separate the dough into three or six equal pieces, depending on the type of braid you would like to do. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.
7. Gather the ropes and squeeze together at the very top. If making a 3-stranded challah, braid the ropes together like braiding hair and squeeze the ends together when complete.
8. To let the challah rise, line a baking sheet with parchment and lift the loaf on top. Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and drape it with a clean dishcloth. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts and let it rise until puffed and pillowy, about an hour.
9. About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. When ready to bake, whisk the reserved egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf.
10. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The challah is done when it is deeply browned and has a nice hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.
11. Let the Challah cool until warm. Slice and eat.
Happy Hanukkah everybody!
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