If you've never had Challah bread before, now is the time to try it. This slightly sweet, eggy bread similar to brioche uses oil instead of butter and is traditionally served on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Wanting to impress my Jewish fiancé for Hanukkah, I whipped some up this past week.
The sweet aroma wafting through my kitchen alone was worth making it, but it will also be the star for some delicious Hanukkah-inspired recipes this week. I'll be using thick slices for my Grilled Challah Sandwiches stuffed w/ brisket, swiss cheese, and horseradish mayo, even thicker slices for my Challah French Toast w/ homemade applesauce, and the rest of it for shoving it in my mouth whenever given the opportunity.
Here's how to make it:
Ingredients yield: 1 loaf
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In the large bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast and ½ tbsp sugar in lukewarm water. Whisk in oil, 2 eggs, and remaining sugar and salt.
Using a dough hook, gradually add in 4 cups flour, kneading until smooth. Dough should be sticky - if it's too sticky to work with, add up to ¼ cup more flour, being careful not to add to much as to keep the bread moist. *This step can also be done by hand on a floured surface.
Place kneaded dough in a large bowl coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour, until almost doubled in size. Punch dough down, cover and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Knead the dough and divide into 6 balls. Roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1½ inches wide.
For a 6-strand braiding method, place the strands in a row and pinch the tops of the strands together to connect. (You may need someone to read this next part to you aloud as you work).
1. Take the outside right strand and move it over two strands. 2. Take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. 3. Take the outside left strand and move it over two strands. 4. Take the second strand from the right and move it over to the far left.
Start over with the outside right strand and repeat until all stands are braided. Tuck the ends underneath to form loaf.
Place braided loaves on greased cookie sheet, brush with egg yolk, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise another hour (or in fridge for a couple hours).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in center.
Brush loaves again with egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired. Bake on center rack for 30-40 minutes, until golden (or until an instant read thermometer reads 190 degrees). Let cool on rack and serve.
*Recipe adapted from Joan Nathan