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Homemade Challah Bread

There's no better smell than fresh baked bread.

Preparation 2 hours
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 2:45

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Warm Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Yeast (2 1/2 packets)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1/2 Cup Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup flour

Rich Egg Glaze

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water or milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds or Poppy Seeds if desired.

Instructions

  1. Proof the yeast. In a LARGE mixing bowl, place 6 cups of flour. Make a well in the center and pour ½ cup of warm water into the well. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir gently and let stand for 15 minutes. The yeast should bubble up and fill in the well.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, water, oil and salt to the dough and mix with a large wooden spoon. Add in remaining flour ½ cup at a time until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. I put down a silicon mat to work on.Using a pastry scraper, or large spatula, knead by folding, stretching, and pulling until soft and springy. Dust with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. You do not want the dough to be dry.
  4. Lightly grease a large bowl and turn the dough in the bowl to coat the ball. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a aside for 1 to 2 hours until it is doubled in bulk. I place my bowl in a gas oven with a pilot light to rise. My first rise was 1 hour.
  5. Gently deflate and cover for a second rise. This one will be shorter 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. NOTE - Don't let the dough rise to more than double the volume. The bread will lack the volume and the dough will tear more easily,
  7. Turn bread out onto a lightly floured surface. If using a 9 x 5 bread loaf pan, lightly grease, or lay parchment or a silicone mat on a cookie sheet.
  8. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts then divide each part into three sections. Gently roll each section with some flour to form a rope. Braid the three ropes starting from the center, and tuck the ends under. For a taller loaf, place the bread into the loaf pan. For a wider and flatter loaf, place on a cookie sheet.
  9. Brush the TOP of the loaf with the egg wash. Be careful not to let the egg wash drip over the side and under the dough. the dried egg wash will cause the bread to stick to the pan or parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again until almost doubled in size. This should take about 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle on sesame seeds or poppy seeds if desired. (I left them plain for the French toast.)
  11. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The loaves should be golden brown. If baked in a pan, the sides should separate from the pan and the loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  12. Enjoy this bread slightly warm with rich butter and jam. Save one loaf for the French Toast.
  13. Challah stays fresh for three days if stored in a sealed container.
  14. The bread can also be frozen. Allow the bread to completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil, then place into a freezer bag. Freeze up to three months. To defrost, leave wrapped up and place on counter for three hours. Unwrap and reheat at 325 deg F for 8 to 10 minutes.

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