Hello dear friends and happy 2015! It has been a LONG time
Since my last post, I started a new job that has kept me very busy, which i’ll blame for keeping me away so long. I now work for a company called Dinner Lab, which is a membership based pop-up dining club, currently operating in 24 cities in the US. So yes, Eating with Edie finally got a job in the food world!
Anyway, one of my new years resolutions was to start posting again, and I have so much great stuff to share with you, so here we go…
For those who don’t know, challah is a special jewish braided egg bread eaten on Shabbat and during various holidays. I started making challah in college with an organization called Challah for Hunger and fell in love with it. We used to meet on Thursday afternoons and braid different varieties of challah: usually cinnamon sugar, raisin, and chocolate chip to be sold on campus the next day.
Over the years I’ve gotten to experiment with different recipes, fillings/toppings, and braids/shapes. My favorite recipe is from Amy’s Bread, an incredible bakery in NYC, which you’ll find below.
I usually decide between a 3, 4 or 6 strand braid. Even though I’ve done each a few times, I still find it helpful to look at a diagram or watch a video while I braid. This post from Tori Avey does a fantastic job of showing each braiding method step by step.
Sometimes you want to make a round challah (it is customary for Rosh Hashanah), and there are a few ways to go about it. First, you can take any of the regular braids you read about above and twist them into a circle, tucking the ends underneath (like the left challah in the picture below).
Most recently, I made a challah shaped wreath for a Christmas eve dinner party and it was a total showstopper! I used the recipe below, but instead of splitting the dough in half, I used the whole thing and created one very long 4 strand braid which I then wrapped around into a circle. Follow along here for some great visual directions.
Without further ado, here’s the golden recipe:
Amy’s Bread Challah Recipe, courtesy of Amy Scherber
Yield: Two loaves
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ cup very warm water
1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons canola oil or other vegetable oil
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
1 yolk of a large egg
2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large egg for egg wash
Line two 12 x 17-inch sheet pans with baking parchment.
1) Combine the yeast and the very warm water in a measuring cup and stir to dissolve the yeast. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes. Place the warm water, oil, sugar, egg, and egg yolk in a large bowl and whisk them to combine. Add the yeast mixture and whisk again.
When all of the flour is incorporated, move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5 minutes. The dough should be sticky and wet. If it feels stiff or dry, knead in additional cool water, one tablespoon at a time. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20 minutes.
3) Return the dough to a very lightly floured work surface and knead it for 5 more minutes. The dough will go from being sticky to smooth and will become supple and stretchy. It should be soft, not firm. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it doubles in volume. A hole poked into the dough with a finger should hold its shape, and should not bounce back.
Create your desired braid from above and put it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then let the braid rise at room temperature for about 45 to 60 minutes or until nearly doubled in volume (I’ve done 15-20 before with great success). About 20 minutes before the dough is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425° F and position 2 racks in the center of the oven.
5) In a small bowl, mix 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Gently brush the top and sides of the loaves, coating them evenly all the way around. Place the pans on the center racks in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom, and reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. If you have any egg wash left over, brush the rest over the loaves now. Continue baking for 10-15 more minutes. If your oven has a convection option, switch it to convection for the last 5 minutes of baking, to improve the browning of the crust. Watch the loaves carefully during the last few minutes. They can become dark very quickly. They should be golden brown but still slightly soft.