I love bread. Being a carb queen I often find myself in my kitchen salivating over delicious recipes, some new and some very old. My family loves to bake, and I quickly grew up kneading my way through loaves of bread. I’m a little bit older now, and things have changed. There are so many different kitchen gadgets that can do so much. Cut time off this, be the perfect baker with this. I always feel so overloaded. I feel it is time to go back to basics. Challah seems to the perfect medium to help with this.
I have never made Challah, and to be perfectly honest I have never even tried the bread. The perfectly braided loaf has always intimidated me. Every picture I saw has lead me to believe I just couldn’t do it. Well everyone, forget that. This was so incredibly easy. The hardest part for me was letting it proof. Patience isn’t one of my strong points, and watching my oven for 90 minutes made the whole process feel like a lifetime.
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.
Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom
This recipe is so simple. Anything that you can pull out of an oven and makes you look like a pro is well worth it. I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I accidentally added all 3 eggs to my dough, although I didn’t find it made to much of a difference in my final product. I also lowered the rise time once the Challah was braided and on the baking sheet. 40 minutes was as much patience as I had left in me. After I took these out of the oven, I let them cool a wee bit and then smothered a slice in butter and cheese. Life is just to damn good.