Recipe: Kay’s Challah

4 Mar

challah

Pronunciation: /ˈhɑːlə, xɑːˈlɑː/
noun (plural challahs or chalot, chaloth /xɑːˈlɒt/)

a plaited loaf of white leavened bread, traditionally baked to celebrate the Jewish sabbath.

Oxford Dictionaries

Challah is delicious, and if you look around the internet you will find many different recipes–this one comes from my dear friend Kay, and it is both yummy and easy. It’s forgiving and difficult to screw up! I love it. This evening I shared the recipe with another friend, Angela (who has been around this blog before! remember her birthday party?), and I thought that I’d get Kay’s permission to share it with all of you as well. Other than the time needed for rising it’s quite quick to make, and did I mention that it’s easy? I did? Then did I mention that it’s delicious? Well, it bears repeating.

Angela with her very first loaf of challah

This recipe makes two loaves.

Kay’s Challah

1 Tablespoon yeast

3/4 cup warm water

2 3/4 cups flour (Kay uses wheat, I’ve been using white)

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons honey

4 Tablespoons oil (Kay uses peanut, I use vegetable)

1 egg

Also: Either additional egg or small amount of milk or cream to brush on the outside of the loaf before baking.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients–oil, honey, and egg. Make a well in the center of the flour/salt and pour in the liquid ingredients and the yeast/water mixture. Combine–you can use a dough hook on a stand mixer, your hands, OR you can use a spatula to stir the ingredients together until they begin to form a dough (which is what I do).

Knead for 5 minutes in a stand mixer or for 10 minutes by hand on a floured surface. I am by no means a bread making expert, but my kneading method is to press the dough away from me with the heel of my hand, then fold it in half, turn it slightly, and repeat. I add extra flour to my hands and my surface as necessary, to keep the dough from sticking. After kneading, spray the inside of a large bowl with oil and put the dough inside, flipping it over so that it’s oiled on both sides, then cover the bowl and leave it to rise for 45 to 60 minutes in a warm place.

Punch dough down (don’t be too violent–gently pressing it down with your fist should do it) and let it rest for 5 minutes. Preheat your oven at 350F. Divide the dough into two pieces, and divide each one into another three pieces. Roll each piece between your palms to form a long strand, then braid the strands together and tuck under the ends. I made my strands about nine to twelve inches long, and stretched them gently as I braided. Cover the loaves and leave them rise again for another 20 minutes–I leave them by the preheated oven. I bake mine on parchment paper, but a lightly greased cookie sheet will also work just fine.

Brush the loaves with either a beaten egg (traditional) or milk (for a lighter brown crust), and sprinkle with nuts or seeds if desired. For a sweeter crust, whisk a dollop of honey into the egg or milk before brushing it on. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes (my oven) to 35 minutes (Kay’s oven).

My challah--this evening instead of making loaves I decided to make sandwich sized mini-loaves, some braided and some plain.

Bonus llama picture! Just because. LLAMA.

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