There are two classic breads whenever one looks into the ‘enriched varieties;’ you know, the ones that have extra butter, milk, and/or eggs to make a richer and tender-crispy product. Of course Brioche is the first, and I gotta love making and eating them. Then there’s Challah, the braided wonder famous for its importance in Judaith traditions, eaten purely on the Sabbath. I mean, unless you’re like me and just want to eat it whenever you want. For instance, when I need something awesome to make an Almond French Toast for my Mother’s Birthday Brunch. I’ve bought it before from a store [and lucky for me I didn’t realize they only sold it on Friday, which is the day I HAPPENED to make it in and got the last loaf], but now I get the chance to make it myself!
Note that the recipe which follows will be for a simple 3-braided style loaf shape; there are quite a few others, including 4-braid, 5, and even higher which all have their own specific techniques to making the braid. I’ll probably try them out in the future should I ever attempt any other challah or braided loafs [hopefully!], but just letting you know for now.
I’d write more but I’ve been so busy with other things lately I don’t have anything else I really want to say here…
4 cups/18oz Bread Flour
2 Tb/1oz Sugar
1 tsp/0.25oz Salt
1 ½ tsp/0.18oz Yeast
2 Tb/1oz Vegetable Oil
2 whole/3.3oz Eggs
2 whole/3.3oz Eggs, Yolks and Whites separated
7/8 cup/7oz Water, Room Temp
Sesame, Poppy Seeds, or anything else desired for Garnish
- Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt, and Yeast in bowl of stand mixer
- Separately, mix Oil, the 2 Eggs, 2 Egg Yolks, and Water until consistent, pouring into the dry mixture
- Mix on low speed, with paddle attachment, until everything congeals and forms into a ball; add more water if needed
- Switch to dough hook and let mixture run on medium speed around 6-8 minutes, adding more flour if sorta sticky, until it forms a smooth, supple mass and passes the windowpane test
- Roll into ball and toss in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and bulk ferment 1 hour
- At that point, punch or knead the dough down to de-gas, reforming into a ball and returning to covered bowl for another hour or until doubled in size
- Divide dough into 3 equal pieces, form into a Boule as shown Here and let rest on counter about 10 minutes
- Roll out each ball into as long and thin of a log/strand as desired, simply making sure that it’s somewhat thicker in the middle and thinner on the ends
- To shape loaves, lay each strand parallel to each other, and ideally vertical to you to discern a ‘right and left’ side. Take the end of the outer right leg, crossing it over the one to the left so that they’re crossed in the middle and the end is between the other two. Now take the outermost left strand and cross it over the now middle strand. Repeat where the end of the outer right is going over the middle and then with the left, until the ends meet up
- Do the same pattern with the OTHER half, only crossing underneath instead of over. Finish by pinching the ends closed
- Take egg Whites, beating well until frothy to make an egg Wash
- Transfer braid to parchment-lined sheet, brushing with wash and lightly spraying with oil before giving a loose cover of plastic or cloth. Proof 60-75 minutes or until doubled in size
- Preheat oven 350F
- Brush loaf once more with a coat of egg wash, sprinkling with Seseame/Poppy Seeds [or in my case, crumbled almonds]
- Bake for 20 minutes, turn 180 degrees, and then 20-40 minutes more depending, until it’s achieved a rich golden brown color and sounds hollow when thumped
- Remove and cool on rack at least an hour before serving. Enjoy
Apparently I need to find instructions on bread braiding that actually goes into proper detail on it. As you can see from my pictures, my loaf didn’t quiiiiiiieeete come out as pretty as a classic braid does… it has a cool shape, mind you, but not a proper braid. Figured out the reason though; the book I based this off has you label the ‘ends’ of each dough log 1, 2, 3. It says cross 3 over 2, then 1 over 2, then repeat. What it DOESN’T say is that when you cross one over the other, it then turns into 2 and the numbers switch so it’s always 1-2-3. So I kept trying to cross things over the main one and it didn’t turn out well for half the loaf.
Also, need to find a better way to make those dough logs/ropes… god it didn’t want to co-operate at all…
I wish I hadn’t forgotten to take pictures of the awesome-as-hell Amaretto French Toast that I made with this… I mean damn it was good. Though, on its own, having a bite with just that bit of toasted almond on top was just nutty goodness. Oh, and I absolutely love this fresh from the oven; the crust is delightfully crunchy and toasty, perfect with that slightly-enriched center. I forgot how much lighter it was compared to brioche, so a bit of butter definitely brings it to awesome heights [I don’t care if it’s kosher or not! And I’m too lazy to find out!]. I sort of want to make it again as a fun all-purpose bread, especially to practice my braiding techniques, and use different oils and things to see how it affects the final outcome.
Does the Dough Like Me Yet?
The dough? Yes. In fact, I think it loves me like family now. The whole braiding technique thing isn’t impressed though… I’ll have to bring it chocolate and flowers next time.