Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Challah

Ok. So here is my famous Challah recipe. This is for the basic challah. experiment like I do...

Ingredients for two challah loaves.

1 1/3 cups tepid water
1 Tbs. (15g.) active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
up to 4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt

First: Dissolve the sugar in the water then mix in and dissolve the yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

Second: Mix in 1 cup of the flour until smooth. Then mix in the egg and the oil and finally the salt.

Third: Add flour 1 cup at a time until you have a smooth very slightly sticky dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes until nice and smooth. Add a little flour as necessary but make sure the dough stays a little sticky. If you add too much the bread will be heavy and dense.

Fourth: Move the dough to an oiled bowl turning in the bowl to coat the dough with oil, then cover and place in a warm place (the oven heated for 3 minutes to 50 degrees centigrade) until it doubles. This is about 1 and a half hours.

Fifth: Remove the dough from the bowl, punch down, and then shape into loaves. I divide the dough into two halves then each half into 3 or 4 pieces. Each piece becomes a 'snake' which I then braid into loaves. Place the shaped loaves onto an oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise until about doubled. This will take about 45 minutes.

Sixth: About 15 minutes before the bread finishes rising, start to preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade (350 Fahrenheit). When the bread is finished rising place in the center of the oven for about 22 minutes or so. The bread will get quite brown. It is done when you tap it on the bottom and it sounds hollow. Cool on a rack.

Once you have this down pat you can experiment.

Try using honey instead of the sugar. Or brown sugar (this will make brown bread). Or molasses (even darker).

Try using melted butter or margarine instead of the oil. Or try olive oil instead of the vegetable oil. (Richer)

Brush a slightly beaten egg (or just the yolk, or just the white) with a little water over the bread just before putting it in the oven. You can sprinkle it with sesame seeds or poppy seeds it you like. Or sunflower seeds.

Try mixing some raisins into the dough after the first rise. Or dried cranberries. Or some chopped walnuts.

Have fun!! It's delicious just plain or with any of the alternatives.

5 comments:

  1. Can I use Prarie Gold Whole Wheat flour instead of bread flour? Combinations of AP and Gold WW?
    Thanks,
    Rose

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    Replies
    1. You can substitute some of the whole wheat for the regular bread flour, but I don't recommend substituting all of it. Usually I use half bread flour and half whole wheat for a delicious whole wheat challah. It is, inevitably, denser than the regular challah. You should add, maybe an extra 1/4 tsp of yeast and let it rise a bit longer to get the height. But all in all it makes wonderful challah.

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  2. Hello from S. Florida!

    I am 'tangzhong-ifying' your challah dough today...wish me luck! So far, so good, on the first rise, nice and soft, and I gave it one fold, next in a few minutes.

    This method continues to fascinate me...yesterday, I ran across a posting where they commented that the Mennonite women, in the US, have used this method for years.

    Also, through reading a book by Gil Marks, I learned that the fermented portion of a saved dough, used to start another batch, in Hebrew, is 'seor'...and then we have the Germanic 'sauer', also meaning fermented/acidic.

    If only people would realize that we have soooo much more in common, than not, even language-wise.

    Enjoy your day,
    Laura Fischer

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    Replies
    1. You are very right. We have soooo much in common and one of the ways we, as humans can show our commonality is through food. 'Seor' in Hebrew is actually sourdough, which is even closer to sauer than the piece of fermented dough referred to by Gil Marks. It is, also, close to 'sour' in English, of course. I love Gil Marks' books and have used his 'Sephardic Cooking' often. Let me know how your challah comes out.

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  3. I greatly enjoyed his book, just fascinating. I'd found a copy of his 'The World of Jewish Food', used, several years ago, but never had a chance to read it. It is living in VA, and I'm in FL. I'm gonna order another copy! Gotta check the Sephardic Cooking out, as well.

    The breads came out wonderfully! I shared a loaf with Mrs. Gerschberg, my favorite neighbor. She thought it was wonderful. I didn't have time to braid them, so just did three rectangular rolls, in each pan, and they were sooo pretty! Light! They looked like those Japanese Milk Loaves! I just finished the remainder of our loaf today, and it had not staled, one bit, tasted just as if I'd only just baked it.

    Thank you again!
    Laura Fischer

    ReplyDelete