Chomely Challah

See what I did there?  Tired of me asking that question?

The weeks we spent on yeasted bread were favorites in my summer baking adventure.  There is something incredibly satisfying about producing a giant, golden, cross-hatched country loaf.  Or baguette.  Or brioche.

The instructor insisted we go old school: no mixmaster, just hands and floured surfaces for kneading.

Chef May’s reasoning was that we needed to understand by touch the difference between dough that is ready to rise and dough that needs more kneading.

Working with my hands is one of the pleasures of baking for me.

Challah was one of the enriched breads we tackled.  Something that’s long been on my list to try, I’ve always been intimidated by the complicated braiding involved.

Beautiful, elegant challah can be a work of art.  Often it is braided with six strands.

As you can see, I struggle with just three.  And this was my second attempt.

As homely as my version baked-off, it was a decided favorite at work.

Once the weather cools down a bit and my kitchen isn’t a rain forrest of heat and humidity I plan to considerably hone my challah-making skills.

Challah

from the New School of Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 C warm water
  • 1 TBS dry yeast
  • 1/2 C oil (I use grape seed)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 3/4-4 C all purpose flour
  • poppy seeds, sesame seeds or 1/2 C chocolate chips
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water

Directions

  1. Dissolve 1 tsp in 1/2 C warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir to dissolve.
  2. Combine yeast mixture with oil, remaining water, sugar salt, eggs and half the flour.  Mix well.
  3. Stir-in remaining flour.  Dough will be sticky.
  4. Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.
  5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to proof until doubled.
  6. Punch down.  Divide dough into 3 equal parts.  Shape into strands.
  7. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and braid loosely.  Fasten ends securely.  Let rise until doubled.
  8. Brush with beaten gold and sprinkle with seeds.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until deep golden brown.

 

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