Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Challah Bread Recipe

You asked for it so I am posting it: the recipe for that fabulous bread.

First I started here Artisan Bread then I turned to page 180.

This recipe is easily doubled or halved and makes four 1-pound loaves.

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (I used salted and it still turned out tasty)
7 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I used a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat)
egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 tbsp water)

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a large (5qt) bowl, or lidded BUT NOT airtight container.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading. I use a large Pampered Chef rubber spatula (the one that looks almost like a scoop). When mixing by hand it can get a little tough but just keep going or you can use wet hands to incorporate that last bit of flour.

3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours - until the dough rises and collapses or flattens on top.

4. The dough can now be used. However, it will be easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1 lb portions in air tight container for up to 4 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using. Then allow the usual rest and rise time.

5. On baking day, butter or grease pan, cookie sheet, etc, or line with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-lb (grapefruit size) piece. dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

6. Now you can form the dough into whatever kind of loaf you want. Braided, shaped, etc. This is where I rolled it out flat and sprinkled on cinnamon sugar, craisins and pecans.

7. Allow the bread to rest and rise in or on prepared pan for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you are using fresh, unrefrigerated dough)

8. If using a baking stone preheat the oven 20 minutes prior to baking time (this along with hot water ensures a crisp artisan crust). If not using a stone a 5 minute preheat is fine. Brush the loaf with egg wash.

9. Bake near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. In my oven the time was closer to 50 minutes but I did make a 2 pound loaf.

10. TRY to allow it to cool before slicing and serving.

There you go. Easy as pie, er bread, that is.

You can think up any number of variations - some included in the book are a braid with poppy seeds on top, turban shaped with raisins, onion pletzel (savory flatbread), sticy pecan caramel rolls (or Brandi - leave out the pecans). Easy to make this into cinnamon rolls.

NOW go try this and let me know what you came up with.

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