Almost every Friday, I make challah. People are always raving about how yummy my challah is. Once I made a challah for a friend, and her dog stole it, and ate it, and she was bitter for over a year.
People assume I slaved over a hot stove, punched and kneaded the dough for hours and that I have some special magical skills. But I don’t. I just have a really great recipe, and I can’t even take credit for that. I got it from my dear pal Geneva Wasserman.
Last week while making it, I shot a little “Insta-Tutorial”.
Ready to start? Dissolve two packets of yeast & 3 TBS sugar in 1 cup of warm water. I do this right in the bowl of my mixer and walk away to check my email.
15-20 minutes later it’s ALIVE! Bubbling and frothy.
Time to start mixing in all the other stuff. I like to alternate between the wet and dry ingredients which include:
- 2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for later)
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbs salt
- 1/3 cup sugar (you can sub honey or agave)
Flour – about 7 cups but I don’t really measure. I just keep adding till I get the right consistency which is not too sticky and gooey, but still a little “springy”.
That dough hook really makes me look good. It does all the work for me. In just a few minutes, all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough comes together in a ball.
When the dough is done, it’s still a little sticky. Place it in a very well oiled bowl, covered with a damp cloth or paper towel and leave it to rise for an hour or so.
Best to leave in an area that is a little warm, like on a stove with a pilot light (but not a flame).
Check it out. It really grows! The kids will be amazed. Punch it back down and let it rise again. About another hr but my timing is not strictly precise.
After another hr it’s time to braid the challah. I use a knife to slice the dough in half, as this recipe is enough to make two large loaves. You can then slice into three pieces to roll three ropes for a simple braid. Or five. Or six. Or eight. Or eleven. If you want to be all fancy like that. I swear whatever number you search for on YouTube (try: “Challah Braid 8”), there is a challah braiding tutorial for that number of strands. Just be warned. Some of them are in Japanese. Which makes for a very entertaining challah braiding experience if you don’t understand Japanese.
I even did my own tutorial on how to braid a round challah. Braiding the challah is my most favorite part of making challah. It’s like doing hair minus the combing and my daughter complaining that I am pulling her scalp off.
Once I even fashioned a challah into a turkey.
After you braid your challah, let it rise a little more for half an hour or so, covered with a damp cloth. Preheat your oven to 365 degrees. Get out those egg whites and any toppings you might want to add. I suggest sesame or poppy seeds, or if you’re the fun mom, rainbow sprinkles.
Brush your challah with the egg whites and apply toppings before you pop in the oven. I usually make one fun challah with sprinkles and one boring without. Boring makes great french toast over the weekend.
Bake for 25-30 minutes and remove from oven. I like to cool my challah on this handy bunk bed like rack.
I probably couldn’t make this challah without my trusty Kitchen Aid Mixer. In fact, I think I might have to trade up to the pro size soon as this recipe is just a little too much volume for my beloved standard sized pink Susan G Komen edition.