Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Challah


Go ahead, get it out of your system, "I Ain't no Holla' (or Challah) Back Girl". Ok, I'm sorry in advance if that was offensive to anyone but it's been in my head for 2 days no. Dang Gwen Stefani and her catchy lyrics.
Ok, now for the story of why me (Ms. Non-Jewish chick) is making Challah bread. I was at the store last week and saw some (I guess in preparation for Rosh Hashana?) and it made me think of french toast. French toast?! Yes, you know when restaurants serve GOOD french toast it's often made with challah bread?! Well, if you didn't you should check it out. Once you've had it that way french toast will never be the same. Same holds true if you've had french toast made with homemade cinnamon swirl raisin bread.
ANYWAYS, so being the nesting-weird-craving-preggo that I am, I decided I would attempt Challah bread (I liked the idea of the challenge) and would use a portion of it (stale of course) later in the week for french toast.

I scoured several websites and found 3 recipes that seemed like good potentials. I looked here, here, and here. I decided to use mostly Smitten Kitchen's recipe--PS (check out her site for the cutest little cinnamon swirl head of hair ever) and use Baker's Banter method. Heidi's seemed overwhelming and complex. I cut the portions down because, well, I didn't want that much Challah.

I started out making the dough yesterday morning with the intent to leave it "overnight" in the fridge, but then I got anxious last night and decided 7.5 hrs in the fridge through the day was just fine.
Here's the recipe:
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (I only use Fleischman's)
1 1/2 tsp sugar + 1/4 c sugar (divided)
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp EVOO
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
4-4 1/4 c All-purpose flour
7/8 c luke water (or measure out 1 c then remove 2 Tbsp same thing!)

1. Dissolve yeast, 1.5 tsp sugar and water in bowl.
2. Whisk in butter, oil. Whisk in TWO of the eggs (one at a time). Then gradually stir in the remaining sugar (1/4 c) and salt.
3. Gradually add flour. When the dough holds together its ready for kneading. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead (lightly flour hands and keep flouring the surface/dough as needed) until it is smooth and soft.
4. Place in a well greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 7-8 hours (or overnight).
5. Remove and allow to come to room temp (usually about 1 hour or so).
6. When room temp, punch down and let it sit for 30-45 min.
7. Now form it into 1 loaf, OR if you wanna be all fancy pants and braid it make 3-6 balls of dough. Roll each into sticks about 14" long and 1/2" diameter. (lightly flour as needed). Then lay them out parallel and pinch the ends together, then braid. I tried the 6 strand thing and it didn't go so well.
I would strongly recommend just doing a regular 3 strand braid for your first go.
8. When done braiding, pinch the ends together and spray spring form pan or cookie sheet. (depending on if you want a round or loaf)--loaf is the easiest. If using the spring form pan, place dough along the outside edge and bring together and pinch to form the ring.
9. Use the remaining egg, whisk it well and brush the top of the loaf with egg. Cover with flour sack and allow to rise for 1 hour.
10. heat oven to 375F, brush top of loaf once again with egg. Bake for 30-45min (Mine was done in about 28 min) or when golden brown, hollow-sounding when thumped, and/or inserted thermometer registers 160F.

Remove, allow to cool for a few, then cut it up and eat it while it's warm. Save some to use for french toast later in the week!

2 comments:

Sara said...

Oh my goodness -- challah French toast IS the best! Yum-mee!

Thanks for posting this! I'll have to try it soon!

Sarah said...

Challah bread is very similar in taste to the Tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) that I make for our lamb roast. It's really, really good toasted with just a little butter and a cup of coffee. Yummm...