Rosh Hashanah 5771 falls on September 8th 2010, so I thought I would share another challah recipe. Traditionally, challah is braided (usually two 6 stranded loaves) but for Rosh Hashanah the loaves are shaped into a spiral symbolizing the circle of life.
I adapted the recipe from Maggie Glezer’s book, A Blessing of Bread. I have yet to find a better challah recipe than Ms. Glezer’s sourdough challah but I am always trying new recipes. This challah is made with instant yeast and has very little liquid; in fact the dough feels very stiff while mixing and shaping. I mixed and kneaded the dough by hand because as it was pointed out in the recipe, it was too stiff for the stand mixer and while you can mix it in the food processor, I find it warms up the dough more than I would like.
Despite being very stiff and dry looking dough, the baked challah is surprisingly moist and tender with a nice fine crumb and delicate buttery crust. Instead of using a mild honey as it is suggested in the book, I used a very fragrant, dark, chestnut honey and that made the loaf that much more flavourful. It also stays fresh for days after baking and the leftovers make the perfect French toast (I’ll be posting the recipe soon).
I am sending this challah to Susan’s Yeastspotting
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup warm water
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup honey
- For glazing: 1 egg and a pinch of salt
In a small bowl, make slurry using the yeast, ¼ cup of all-purpose flour and water, let it stand for about 10 minutes, the top should get bubbly.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt, make a well and add the slurry, eggs, oil and the honey, knead until the dough looks smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume, it took less time for me because it was an especially hot and humid day.
Divide the dough into two 15 ounce or one 24 oz. (680 grams) and the rest into three smaller loaves (I did the latter). Roll the dough first into a rope and then shape it into a spiral. At this point the dough can be refrigerated for 24 hours.
Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let the loaves proof until doubled in size again. Meanwhile, prepare the egg wash for glazing by gently beating the egg with a pinch of salt.
Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the loaves with the egg wash and bake until evenly golden and a thermometer inserted in the middle of the loaves registers 200F.
If you make one large and three smaller loaves, remove the smaller ones as soon as they are done and continue baking the large one. The smaller ones bake relatively quickly but the large loaf spends a long time in the oven, so if the loaf gets too dark, tent with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent it from burning.
Once the loaves are baked, remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.