Braided egg bread
Challah (pronounced "hallah") is a type of braided egg bread
traditionally eaten on the Jewish Sabbath. It is eaten by tearing off
hunks rather than by cutting with a knife.
I got this recipe from a housemate a couple of years ago; I don't know its
origins before that, but it has become one of my favorite recipes, and one
with which I have experimented a good deal. I've tried several other challah
recipes, but find I like this one the best.
Ingredients(2 Large Loaves)
- 1/2 oz active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
(or up to
more, to taste)
- 3 large eggs
- 9-10 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- sesame or poppy seeds
Mix yeast in warm water. Let sit 5 minutes.
In a large bowl combine salt, sugar, eggs, and oil.
Add yeast mixture.
Slowly add flour, stirring until not too sticky. When the dough becomes too
thick to stir, turn it out onto a floured board and knead, adding flour as
necessary. Scrape the working surface with a plastic dough spatula from time
to time, to keep a dry skin from forming on it. You may find that you need
more flour, but don't add too much more, or the dough will become heavy.
Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning to
coat the dough with oil. A ceramic bowl is best. Cover the bowl with a clean
cloth and leave in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or
until doubled in bulk.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 6 balls.
Let the dough balls sit for 5 minutes, covered.
Keeping dough balls covered while working, remove a ball and roll it between
your hands (or on working surface) into a cord about
long. The dough is quite elastic, making it nicely workable, yet also
tending to make it shrink back slightly after being lengthened. I find it
best to lengthen it in a series of passes. Form 3 cords this way, and then
start from the middle and braid them into a single loaf. Tuck the ends
under. It's a little harder to figure out how to start braiding from the
middle, but the loaves come out more even and attractive that way. Don't
pull the cords while braiding. Place the loaf on a lightly oiled baking
sheet, and cover it with a cloth while you form the other loaf. Keep the
loaves well apart on the baking sheet, since they will expand a lot.
Cover the loaves and place again into a warm, draft-free place to rise
for 45-60 minutes.
After the loaves have risen, gently brush the tops with beaten egg using a
soft brush, and then sprinkle with the seeds.
for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
The variation in oil makes quite a difference in the moisture
of the bread: If you use the larger quantity, the bread comes out
very nice and moist, but when it cools it becomes somewhat oily.
The amounts of sugar and oil may sound high, but try it this way once
before cutting back. I have tried other recipes that use less, and they
don't taste nearly as good.
Here's the fun part: variations. Because this dough is so workable,
you can form it many different ways, limited only by your imagination;
I once made a whole collection of different shapes and sizes, for a
festive dinner party. Some of the variations I have tried include:
Forming the braided loaf into a wreath-like loop (and joining
the individual ends)
Braiding 5 ways instead of 3
Braiding 3 braided loaves into a recursive loaf (this actually
didn't turn out very well: it ended up looking knotty, rather
than intricate, and being somewhat tough)
Baking a small loaf on top of a larger loaf (traditional)
Varying the loaf sizes. One time I made individual-sized loaves, so
that everyone could have their own loaf at dinner. Another time, I
divided the dough into 2 halves, set one aside, and made a loaf
out of the other half. Then, I divided the remaining piece into 2
halves, and continued the process until I had an array of loaves, each
half the size of the previous. I managed to get 9 loaves by doing
this, the smallest of which was about
Varying the length-to-width proportions; traditionally, challah loaves
are quite wide relative to their length. I find that shorter, wider
loaves are doughier (and thus tastier), but longer loaves look more
Adding extra ingredients, such as raisins and/or nuts.
30 minutes dough preparation,
1 1/2 hours first rising,
1 hour loaf forming,
1 hour second rising,
30 minutes baking. Total: 4 1/2 hours.
Approximate measurement OK.
University of Washington, Computer Science, Seattle, Washington, USA
Recipe last modified: 8 Dec 86
From: schwartz@uw-wally (Michael F. Schwartz)
Subject: RECIPE: Challah
Date: 6 Mar 87 04:17:05 GMT
Organization: University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
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