Week 1 of officially quarantining! With all this ‘free time’ now social distancing at home, I’ve started to try baking things I’ve never baked before. I’ve always wanted to try baking challah bread – loveee sweet bread! – but I’ve had limited experience handling active yeast and have found excuses on not being able to find the time let the dough rise over time. Luckily now I have loads of time to pass locked up inside! I picked the first recipe I found online on allrecipes.com and read through some of the comments to modify the recipe slightly – I added more egg yolks, a bit more honey, and decreased the overall baking time. I’m super happy how the challah bread turned out for my first attempt and was excited to test it out for brunch the next day – mmhmm french toast! The only negative comment was this recipe made 2 MASSIVE loaves. Next time I’d likely decrease the recipe in 1/2 and make 2 smaller loaves.
RECIPE (2 massive braided loaves)
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg + 3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all purpose flour
1 egg (for brushing on loaf)
1 tablespoon honey (for brushing on loaf)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
SPRINKLE: yeast over warm water – stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.
BLEND: in honey, oil, eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading as dough thickens (I used a Kitchen-Aid mixer so kneading about 2 minutes after pouring in the 5th cup of flour). 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 (or in my case put 1/2 back into the Kitchen-Aid mixer and use the dough hook to knead). Use the kneaded dough to create your own design. I followed the video demo on allrecipes.com. Place the finished braids on a baking tray that’s lined with parchment paper. Cover with a damp towel again and let rise about 1 hour.
PREHEAT: oven to 375F
BEAT: the 1 egg & honey and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or other ingredients if desired.
BAKE: at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then take out and cover with aluminum foil (to prevent too much browning) and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.