668. Challah Bread#BreadBakers
The Bread Baker group theme for July was set by Gayathri who blogs at Gayathri’s Cook Spot. She suggested braided bread as the theme. Braided breads are a work of art by many professional bakers. Some are simple and some are so elaborate. However, they do look beautiful if perfectly mastered. Before I go into my braided bread, I must mention that Gayathri is a wonderful baker. Mostly all her bakes are without eggs and she has also experimented baking using aqua faba. Visit her blog for eggless baking recipes and tips.
Coming to braided bread, its surprising that I’ve not tried many braided breads. I’ve baked a braided pesto bread and Italian Easter bread only. So doing another braided bread was an interesting task. Challah bread look so beautiful and but a daunting task. I thought I’ll not be able to braid the bread well. I had decided to do the 3 strand braid as that’s what I’ve grown up knowing. I had very long hair till I was 24. I had to braid it everyday. However, when Stacy shared a video by The Bread Kitchen by Titli Nihaan I decided to try out the 4 strand braid. My mistake was when I rolled the 4 strands the middle became thinner than the ends. Oh well, as my hubby consoled me “The way you can make rotis with your eyes closed the Jews braid the Challah. For the first attempt not bad at all, who cares if the middle looks slightly thinner than the ends.” Isn’t he sweet?
What is Challah? Pronounced as haalla, it is basically a plaited or braided loaf of white leavened bread traditionally baked to celebrate the Jewish sabbath. The main ingredients are white flour, eggs, water, yeast, sugar and salt. Commonly made in Israel and by the Jewish Communities all over the world. The first time I saw beautifully braided loaves was at a Jewish bakery near to where my dad lives in London. I was intrigued as to how it was braided. Some were long, some round and some looked like a braid twisted into complicated knots!
Its the 2 opportunities that coincidentally fall on the same day that really compelled me to bake the Challah. The first I mentioned is the Bread Bakers theme and the second is the Blogging Marathon theme where I chose to make dishes for the Oceanic Cuisine. For this theme we are not limited to the Oceania countries but any country surrounded by 2 or more oceans or seas. Israel is one of them surrounded by the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Frankly, I was afraid that I may not braid it well and the end result would be a bread with holes in them. But the 2 in one option was the main tempting factor.
I’m so glad I tried out the Challah, not only because the bread was ever so soft and brioche like but also I thoroughly enjoyed braiding the bread. As Titli suggested in her video, have to practice braiding with boot laces.
Makes 1 big loaf
3½ cups plain flour or all purpose baking flour
2¼ tsp dried instant active yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
3 beaten eggs, room temperature
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp or so sesame seeds for topping
1 egg yolk for brushing
extra flour for dusting
extra butter for greasing
- Mix flour, salt and yeast together in a big bowl.
- Mix warm milk and honey together.
- Add butter to the flour mixture and rub it into the flour.
- Add the beaten eggs and water mixture.
- Mix the dough using a spatula.
- Let the shaggy dough rest for 10 minutes. Make sure you cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film.
- After 10 minutes, lightly dust the worktop and remove the dough onto the worktop.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it is smooth and silky. Don’t be tempted to add too much flour. The dough will stick a bit to the hands but will be manageable.
- Grease the bowl lightly with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and grease it lightly with butter.
- Put the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a damp tea towel or cling film and let it rise till its double in size. This will take about 1½ hours. In warmer weather it will take less time.
- Very lightly dust the worktop with flour and remove the risen dough form the bowl. Knead it gently.
- Roll it into a thick rectangle or square and divide the dough into 4 parts.
- Roll each part into a long rope of about 16-18 inches.
- Place the ropes into a fan shape and bring all four top ends together and pinch them together.
- Now begin to braid the ropes. I’ll not go into the instructions so please follow the video by The Bread Kitchen.
- Make sure you pinch the end together. I cut them off and pinched them together. And then tuck the ends under to give a neat finishing.
- Place the braided dough on a greased baking tray and let the dough rise for 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Beat the yolk lightly and brush it over the braided dough. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.
- Bake the challah for 30-35 minutes or till it is a nice golden colour.
- Remove the challah from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
- Serve the bread with whatever you like. We had it with some butter. The left over slices were used up as sandwich bread.
- If you find braiding complicated, start with the 3 strand braiding as that’s pretty easy.
- If you wish, you may brush the top with melted butter after it is baked if you don’t want to use egg yolk.
- You don’t have to add sesame seeds on top.Some Challah breads are plain.
- If you cut the ends, roll the dough into a ball and bake it as a roll.
Check out how other fellow bakers have braided their bread:
- Artisan Herb Bread Braid by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Basic Challah Bread by Cook’s Hideout
- Braided Bread with Candied Papaya Chunks by Sara’s Tasty Buds
- Braided Garlic Bread by Sizzling Tastebuds
- Braided Herbed Breadsticks by Ambrosia
- Braided Rum & Raisin Buns by All That’s Left Are The Crumbs
- Challah Bread by Mayuri’s Jikoni
- Cherry Cheese Braid by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Chicken Cheese Braided Bread by Sneha’s Recipe
- Nutella Braided Bread by Veena’s Vegnation
- Orange Saffron Braided Brioche by Food Lust People Love
- Scali Bread by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Spice and Herb French Braid by The Schizo Chef
- Two-Seed Potato Challah by What Smells So Good?
- Whole Wheat Challah Bread by Spill the Spices
- Whole Wheat Pizza Braid by Herbivore Cucina
- Whole Wheat Zopf Bread by I camp in my Kitchen
- Winston Knot Bread by Gayathri’s Cook Spot
- Zucchini Yeast Bread by Baking Sense
Sending this recipe to the following events:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to email@example.com.
Theme : Oceanic Cuisine
Week 2 Day 2
Check out what other Blogging Marathoners have cooked for Blogging Marathon#78 here