Homemade challah

In my rush to make this bread for my stuffing on Thanksgiving, I didn’t really properly document it photo-wise, but trust me if you want to make some bread, you should try your hand at challah.  The key difference between challah and normal bread is that the addition of eggs and a little extra sugar and fat just makes it taste way better.  The bread is so soft and making a stuffing with it was just way better than any other stuffing I have made with normal bread.

As with other breads, it’s a bit time consuming to make because of the rising time, but really there are very few ingredients and you essentially just mix them together, knead dough, and make your loaves as complex or simple as you want.  Make sandwiches or french toast or simply put a loaf in the middle of the table at a dinner party and have people tear off chunks (not like I’ve ever done that before).   This is my favourite type of bread. (although sometimes I’m just in a foccacia mood, but I’ve already posted about that.) Enough said.

Homemade challah (adapted from The Candid Appetite)

Ingredients – makes 2 loaves so halve the recipe if you only want one…but I mean more challah is always better

  • 1½ packages (1½ tablespoons or 11 grams) active dry yeast
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon (12 grams)
  • 1¾ cups (437.5 ml) warm water – important for this to be like bath water, so not super hot, but definitely warm
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil – use a neutral oil here (not olive oil)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) salt
  • 8½ cups (1,063 grams) all-purpose flour – I don’t think I used this much – it’s important to just watch and feel the dough as opposed to going with an exact measure in my opinion
  • 2 tablespoons (14 grams) sesame seeds or poppy seeds, (optional)
  • 1 large egg, whisked with a splash of water (for egg wash)

In a large bowl, lightly stir together the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and warm water. Place in a warm place for about 15 minutes, or until frothy and foamy. If your yeast has not foamed, then toss it and start over. It’s important for the yeast to activate properly.

Then, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, oil, eggs, and salt,  Whisk until completely combined. Slowly add the flour one cup at a time.  Eventually it will start to become a soft dough.  You may not need the full amount of the flour, but you want to make sure it’s easy enough to pick up so you can take it out of the bowl and put it on a floured counter.  When it’s still a bit sticky, do this and knead on the counter while putting more flour on it.  By the end of the process it should be a smooth dough.  Form it into a smooth ball (seriously the kneading process is so fun so just enjoy it). Grease a large bowl (the mixing bowl will do if it’s large enough – just rinse it out and grease it) with vegetable oil. Drop in the dough ball and turn over to coat both sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp cloth. Place in a place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface.  Knead into a smooth ball again and then cut in half to make the two loaves.  I just did a simple three part braid and then folded it around to make a circle, but you can get all kinds of fancy with this (four part braids, six part braids…go to other sites for this, I am not your source on that as I just want bread that tastes good).  You can loop it around to make it a circle or just have it be a straight loaf.

Place the loaves onto two baking sheets that are lined with parchment paper. Brush each loaf with the egg wash very liberally. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coarse sea salt or all three, if you wish. You could also just leave them plain. Bake in a preheated 190 C / 375 F oven for about 35 t0 40 minutes, or until golden brown all around. Remove loaves from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving (but obviously eat some warm straight away).  Store it in an airtight container and it will keep for several days, or you can freeze the loaves, but you will want to eat as much as possible right away. (Or save one loaf to go stale and make stuffing, as I did!)

IMG_6461Yeast warm water mixture

IMG_6462Adding wet ingredients and slowly adding flour – obviously at this point you need more flour

IMG_6464Getting the dough all flour-y so you can knead it properly

IMG_6469All risen in the bowl

IMG_6470Lovely golden brown colour will tell you when it’s finished

Sure, challah is not as “healthy” persay as some other braids – there’s a bit more sugar and oil and eggs.  But those extra ingredients are what make it especially delicious.  The texture of challah is unlike any other bread and you really can’t beat a warm slice absolutely plain.  Or make it into French toast or add it to stuffing…the possibilities are endless.  This is a fantastic and simple recipe and I definitely plan to use it again!

One year ago: No bake cheesecake

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