Challah is an "eggy" bread with a touch of sweetness, braided into loafs. It's a highlight at Shabbat and other Jewish holiday meals. There are many symbolisms associated with this bread, from manna, to the 6 braided strands in each two-loaf batch representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and so on. Geoff will cover more about challah bread in an upcoming post this week at TraveltheText.com. But for now, it's baking time.
Our favorite recipe (written out at the end) is based on traditional methods - with a little extra honey.
Here's what you need:
For instructions on how to braid a 6-braid challah loaf, check out the following video:
It's that impressive.
Warm water - 2 1/4 Cups
Active Dry Yeast - 1 Tablespoon
Honey - 3/4 Cup
Olive Oil - 4 Tablespoons
Eggs - 4
Salt - 1 Tablespoon
Unbleached all-purpose flour - 8 Cups
- In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Stir in until dissolved. Let sit until yeast/water mixture is foamy (a few minutes)
- Mix together honey, oil, 4 egg yolks, 2 egg whites (set aside the extra 2 egg whites for later), and salt and add to yeast mixture.
- Add flour gradually as you mix. Begin kneading dough with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide the batch in half and with floured hands knead each section for about 5 minutes adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky.
- Divide each half into 6 pieces (or 3 if doing a 3-strand braid) and roll out into long strands about 1 1/2 inches thick and 12-15" long.
- Pinch the ends of the 6 strands firmly together and begin braiding.
- Grease two baking stones or trays and place a braided loaf on each.
- Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Return to the 2 egg whites set aside, add 2 T. of honey (optional), and mix together. Using a pastry brush, lightly apply the egg wash over the top of the braided loaves. This will give the challah its traditional crisp, dark finish while cooking.
- Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes. Check after 15-20 minutes to make sure bread doesn't brown too fast, and cover with aluminum foil if necessary.
- Remove and set to cool. Serve to family and friends and taste the joy of breaking bread together!
Click on the link below for your own digital copy, or to print this recipe: