Thursday, May 13, 2010
This was our table last Saturday-very simple. It's all I can do right now but even though it's simple, it's still beautiful. Just remember, whatever you do, it doesn't have to be super elaborate...just special.
All right, it's time to talk Challah. I found this recipe in the Williams Sonoma Bread Cookbook that I actually just borrowed from a friend. I never tried any other recipe because this one turned out so great that there wasn't any need. You can check online for different recipes if you want. But this one is tried-and-true, so if you want to know you've got a good recipe, don't bother looking anywhere else. This one is excellent.
For all of you bread makers out there, I'm going to post the recipe first so that you can just get to it! For everyone else who hasn't ever tackled a project like this, don't worry! I'm going to walk you through making a Challah step by step with pictures and everything.
Also, just so you know, this will take awhile. Challah bread has three rises. Of course the better you get at it, the faster it will go. However, just a note of encouragement. I don't make this every Saturday. It makes such a huge loaf that I usually only bake a fresh Challah when we have guests or when we're out of it. Other than that, I cut my loaf up into three large chunks and freeze it. It freezes so beautifully. It's definitely the best fresh but it's pretty darn close even after being frozen. So I only make Challah bread every three to four weeks. Keep that in mind. Unless you have a HUGE family or a lot older children, you should be able to stretch your Challah out for awhile. And once you'd need to start making it more often, your kids will be older and it will be easier to do so.
So here we go.
Challah Bread (Shabbat Bread)
4 1/4-4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil (I usually use canola)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
Put 3 cups flour in mixer with paddle. Make a well and pour in water. Sprinkle yeast and 1 tbsp over water. Stir water to dissolve the yeast. Let stand until foamy (10 minutes or so). Add the remaining sugar, eggs, oil and salt to the well. Beat together the dry and liquid ingredients on medium low speed about two minutes until a shaggy mass forms. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the stiff, sticky dough pulls away from the bowl sides. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed adding flour 1 tbsp at a time if the dough sticks un til smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled deep bowl and turn once to coast it. Cover loosely and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours. Punch down and let rise again until doubled, about 1 hour. Make dough into three balls. Roll into three ropes. Braid. Brush top with half of the egg mixture. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Brush loaf with remaining egg and sprinkle with the seeds. Bake until deep golden brown, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Put the 3 cups flour in your mixer bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour the water in. A digital thermometer works really well to make sure your water temp is right. If you don't have one, it should be very warm to the touch but not so much that you can't stick your finger in it. Sprinkle yeast on top and 1 tbsp. sugar. Also, a note on yeast. Buy it in bulk at Costco or online at www.kingarthurflour.com. It's roughly $5 for a whole pound rather than a $1 per tiny packet.
Let rise for ten minutes or so until puffy. Then add all the other ingredients to the well.
Beat together the dry and liquid ingredients on medium low speed about 2 minutes until a shaggy mass forms. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the stiff, sticky dough pulls away from the bowl sides. Switch to dough hook.
Knead on low speed adding flour 1 tbsp at a time if the dough sticks until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Transfer dough to an oiled deep bowl and turn once to coast it. Cover loosely and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.
Punch down and let rise again until doubled, about one hour.
Make dough into three balls and then roll into three ropes.
Brush top with egg mixture. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350. Brush loaf with more egg mixture and sprinkle with the seeds.
Bake until deep golden brown, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy with your family!!
Don't be discouraged if it doesn't turn out. Practice, practice and practice some more. Sometimes my Challah totally bombs and I just have to laugh. I've made it so many times now and I still make mistakes. Just keep it going and do your best. Over time, it'll get easier and better. It's totally worth it so don't give up. Your family will bless you for your efforts.
However, also know that you don't have to make a Challah bread to have a Sabbath Dinner. If you're not a breadmaker, just buy a fresh loaf of your favorite bread every week. There's nothing wrong with that at all! The point is to be together to celebrate God's goodness and you can do that over a Challah or a loaf of french bread. It's all the same.
Good luck. And if anyone makes it, do tell me how it goes. I'd love to hear from you. If you have questions, I'd also love to talk via email (if you want to) to help you get things sorted out.
Now get to it!!