Friday, 10 February 2012

CHALLAH

When we were much younger, my parents used to take me and my sister to Shabbat services. Back then, I didn't really pay attention to services. I would always bring a book and read the whole time. If I forgot a book, I would sit and read my favorite Torah passage (the story of Joseph in Egypt), whether it was what the Rabbi was talking about or not. My favorite part of going to services happened when the service was over. Everyone would go out into the lobby and eat challah and drink grape juice (or wine for the adults). I love challah. These days, I appreciate Shabbat services for more reasons than the challah, but that doesn't mean I don't still look forward to eating challah on Shabbat.

This was my first adventure in baking challah on my own. It was intimidating, but I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed with myself. It's not as good as the challah from the bagel shop in Houston (their challah is truly the best), but it's one of the best homemade challahs I think I've ever had. All the leftover challah made for some pretty sweet french toast.
I did find the braiding instructions to be a bit challenging, but I found a youtube video that showed you how to do it, so I got some nice braids in the end.

Challah
recipe from SmittenKitchen

Ingredients:
1 1/2 packages dry active yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil plus some more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.
Whisk in the oil and then beat in four eggs, along with remaining sugar, and salt.
Gradually add the flour.
When dough holds together, turn it out onto a floured surface and begin kneading.
Knead until smooth.
Clean out the bowl and grease it really well.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough, cover again, and let rise for another 1/2 hour.
Cut dough in half, and break each half into six pieces.
Then, use this video to braid it.
Beat the remaining egg and brush it on the loaves.
Let the loaves rise one more hour.
Preheat oven to 375 and brush loaves with egg wash again.
In the original recipe it says to bake the loaves in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes. Mine was decidedly done after 15 minutes. So I guess, just check on the bread after 15 minutes and if it still needs to cook more, leave it in.
Cool loaves on a rack.
Enjoy!

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