With the Easter Sunday approaching, everyone is planning their little gatherings. Egg hunts for kids and a brunch for adults. A perfect bread for such a holiday gathering would be the Challah. Perfect because yeast does all the work once you have kneaded the dough. Let the dough rise 2 times before braiding. Then raise once again. Bake and serve.
The best part of this bread making process is that when Jewish women make this bread, they ask for blessings for their family and anyone who eats this bread. Isn’t that such a lovely thought? The bread is made with love and anything that you make with love is bound to be extra flavorful!
It seems like a lot of work but it is spread over several hours so doesn’t really seem a lot. Plus it lets you focus on other dishes or simply chill! Braiding is initially a daunting thought but there are many Youtube videos describing how to braid a 4 – strand, 6 – strand challah. Either as a loaf or as a circular turban.
This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen but is halved as I couldn’t for the life of me think about using 8 cups of flour in any recipe. For 2 adults and a kid even 4 cups of flour are too much. It has resulted in a decadent challah which we ate warm as is from the oven and next day in a French toast.
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg mixed with water and whisked for egg wash
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds for sprinkling.
1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a cup of warm water. Let stand for a few minutes to proof ( or froth up).
If your yeast does not proof, discard it. Get fresh batch and try again. No pint continuing with bad yeast.
2. Whisk oil in the proofed yeast. Then add the eggs one by one and continue to whisk.
3. Now add the flour 1/2 – 1 cup at a time and continue to mix. When the dough is sticky, take it out on the platform and knead till smooth.
4. Put the dough in a well-greased bowl and cover with a cling wrap. Keep it in a warm place to arise for about an hour to hour and a half till double in volume. This will take longer in colder places. Be patient. Don’t rush through this step. As Deb points in her recipe, heat an oven to 150 F and then switch off. Keep this covered dough in oven to raise.
5. Take out the dough, punch it down and then knead it smooth. Again, let it raise till double.
6. Now take the dough and form 4 – 6 balls based on what you want to braid. Brush the loaf with egg wash. Let this rest for 30 – 40 mins and raise once more.
I divided the dough into half and then braided as I found it manageable but for a nice big loaf that you can use as a sandwich base, use the entire dough in one braid.
7. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 375 F. Brush the bread again with egg wash. Dip your finger in egg wash, and then into sesame seeds and then press on each segment of the braid. That way all your seeds are distributed rather than randomly sprinkled.
8. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes till golden. Let cool on a rack before serving.