August 21, 2013

Challah Bread

My mom made a lot of bread when I was growing up, but the one I remember best is Challah bread.

I mean, anytime you BRAID food, it's fairly memorable. Also, when it's a little bit sweet and richer than regular sandwich bread, it's pretty popular.

Somehow, though, I didn't get around to trying it myself until last week. I made a loaf and we ate it in 2 days (1/3 went to being eaten plain, another 1/3 went to these paninis, and the last 1/3 was made into the best french toast I've ever had).

Also, I cooked it just a couple of minutes too long, so the outside was really, really dark. It tasted fine, but I couldn't manage to take any pictures of it that didn't make it look like deeply burnt bread. I showed Bart the photos on the viewfinder of the camera (so we're talking a tiny image), and his first comment was, "It looks kind of . . .dark."

Obviously I had no choice but to make another loaf. And we've eaten paninis again. And french toast. And slices with jam. No one's complained.

Easy homemade Challah bread -- perfect for paninis, french toast, or just eating with jam

Challah Bread
(adapted very slightly from Annie's Eats)

Makes 1 loaf

Bread dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour (the second time I used one cup of wheat flour and it was still fantastic)
2¼ tsp instant yeast
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for the egg wash)
4 T butter, melted
½ cup water, room temperature

Egg wash:
1 egg white (saved from the egg yolk used in the dough)
1 T water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the eggs, egg yolk, melted butter, and water together. Add the remaining dough ingredients and knead at low speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is tacky but not sticky (you can add a couple of more tablespoons of flour if you really need to, but don't over-flour it)

While it kneads, whisk together the egg white and water for the egg wash and refrigerate.

Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray, then put the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place (I often turn my oven on for about 90 seconds, then turn it back off and let my dough rise in there) until doubled, about 1½-2 hours.

Press the dough down carefully to deflate it, then cover and let it rise again until its doubled in size, another 45-60 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into three equal strands (like snakes - long and thin), then carefully braid them together (I generally start about 1/3 from the top, braid to the end, then braid the other end). Tuck the ends under.

Transfer to a baking sheet (I use my silicone baking mat to line it, but you could do no lining or use parchment paper instead).

Cover loosely with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, until it has increased in size by about a third. 

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Brush the loaf with the egg wash (I never use it all, so I just add it to my french toast liquid a day or two later).  Bake the loaf for 25-35 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Cool before slicing (but I would never expect you to wait until it was COMPLETELY cool).

8 comments:

  1. Yup, challah bread is delicious. And pretty easy considering how great it looks and tastes. It is one of my stand-bys. Glad you shared your recipe.

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  2. My children LOVE challah bread! I love it with sesame seeds on top.

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  3. This sounds awesome! I have never made homemade bread before (aside from like banana bread...), and would love to give it a shot. I bet even I could make this, and I'm the worst cook ever! Haha. Thanks for sharing!

    brynnash.blogspot.com

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  4. So yummy! Probably one of my favorite types of bread, too :)

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  5. I must have been hungry when I was reading this post because I immediately hopped off of the computer and went and made this bread. It was delicious!

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  6. Janssen, This is one of my all time favorite kinds of bread to make. The little bit of sweetness is the kicker for me. Funny that you just posted this, because when I read this I was planning a challah bread post on my blog! Lol! Maybe I will get around to it soon. :) Your food pics are looking awesome by the way! I'm sure Elena (my daughter) can relate to the whole "mommy is trying to photograph my food" thing. It seems like there is always a delay in serving the food because of my picture taking. :) Ahh, the joys of blogging. Cold food and pretty pics. Anyway, hope you are all doing great in your new home. I sure have enjoyed reading about all the fun!

    ~Laura Muir

    You can find me at:
    Fresh Cooking=Happy People
    www.freshcookinghappypeople.blogspot.com

    xo

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  7. YummY!

    http://lapetitetasse.blogspot.it/

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  8. It looks beautiful! I remember having bread like this but with poppy seeds sprinkled on top! Looks so good!

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