Monday, October 20, 2008

Bread Baking Babes - Challah

I am verrrrrry excited to be the "Kitchen of the Month" for October with my bread baking friends The Bread Baking Babes. It's a lot of pressure to come up with a recipe for these ladies; something interesting, fun, different....
I sat myself down with my copy of The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook that Scott bought me from a book sale earlier this year (we love book sales!), and at one point I had 18 bread recipes marked! It was a tough choice, but I decided on Challah (pronounced hallah) bread.

I chose the recipe for 2 reasons, first because the dough didn't sound too difficult to make, and second because I've never made a braided dough before and these baking groups have woken up the part of my teeny brain that wants to experiment more with bread baking. Damn them! In the nicest way of course.

So you make the dough, let it rise, and then divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, for 2 loaves. Then you split each piece into two unequal (2/3 and 1/3 pieces), and split each of those pieces into 3. Roll the pieces into ropes, and braid them.

Lay the smaller braid on top of the larger braid and seal the ends together.

Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds (if desired, I didn't) and let rise again.

Then bake, let cool, and stand back and admire your beautiful loaves of bread. The one on the right lost some definition because I covered them with plastic wrap for the second rise. I guess I shouldn't have done that.

Please check out my bread baking friends today and see how amazing their Challahs turned out:
Bake My Day (Karen), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna),Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Thyme of Cooking (Katie), and Grain Doe (Gorel).

Edited To Add: My apologies to all the Bread Baking Buddies out there! If you'd like to be a Bread Baking Buddy, please make the bread and send me a link to your post by October 31! My email is iliketocook AT shaw DOT ca.

from The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook

Makes two loaves

5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups flour, unsifted
3 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 package dry active yeast
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
pinch powdered saffron
1 cup warm water (120-130'F)
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp cold water
1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves. Add a little at a time to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer and medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally. Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Blend the single egg white and the other 3 whole eggs into the batter. Reserve the single egg yolk. Stir 1/2 cup of flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board about 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free place until double in bulk (approximately one hour).

Flour a pastry board lightly and set the dough on it. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 2 pieces, using 1/3 of the dough for one piece, and 2/3 of the dough for the other. Divide the large piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes together tightly, using your fingers to press the dough together at the ends. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 10 inch ropes and braid tightly. Place the smaller braid on top of the larger one and seal the ends. Repeat this process to form the second loaf.

Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet. Mix the reserved single egg yolk with the 1 tsp of cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and let the loaves rise until double in bulk in a warm draft free place (approximately one hour). Bake in a 400' over for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.


Lien said...

Beautiful loaves Sara. Thanks for a great recipe, I love it. Great to be braiding again with bread too. Our children love you for this recipe choice too!
(Our logo is now on our blog... sorry I was a bit late this time)

Ilva said...

Thanks Sara for making me try out this lovely bread! I will definitely make it again!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Great choice Sara, my family loves you! Baked it a second time; two families got these loaves as give-aways, they were happy!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I loved making this bread! Thanks for the great recipe, Sarah. Good choice!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wonderful directions here Sara.
I am so happy you are experimenting with us!
This was a beautiful dough and bread!!

Gretchen Noelle said...

So glad you were able to choose this and practice with a braided loaf! They look great and U am sure they were tasty! Is there any info about the "buddy system" - what day do we need to post by? Thanks!

görel said...

Thanks for a great recipe! This bread was really nice to make, I enjoyed the braiding part! I will definitely do it again.

Arundathi said...

that does look beautiful. i'd love to take part in BBB - but am just starting out baking bread - not brave enough!

Sara said...

Sorry I forgot the Buddy info! It's posted now, please email me your link by Oct 31.

And Arundathi, you should give this one a try, it's pretty easy. If I can do it, so can you!

Arundathi said...

I did try it and it was fabulous! :-) thank you thank you so much for a great recipe. everyone at home is very impressed! lol!

Monique said...

Oh, how I loved your choice of this recipe.Sorry I couln"t make my posting. But I sure will make it one of these days.And eat it on your health.
Thanks for beiing our kitchen of the month. I know now its a huge job , even when you don't loose internet like I did..
You did great .

Sara said...

Arundathi, I am so glad you tried it! Thanks for telling me. If you post about it, let me know so you can be a Bread Baking Buddy.

Peabody said...

Great looking bread, good pick for your group.

Lis said...

I have always been fascinated by the look of this bread, but I've never even tried it let alone baked it.. but since you are the wind beneath my wings! I will try this recipe of yours in the very near post-nuptual future! :)

Your loaves turned out beautifully!


Anonymous said...

I have to make this. I just have to!

natalia said...

Ciao ! reading your post I really would like to join so I'll head to the kitchen and email you the results by the 31st ... right ?

Sara said...

Natalia, that's right! My email is iliketocook AT shaw DOT ca.

NKP said...

This was such a wonderful choice, I loved it.
I like how nice and glossy yours are without the seeds, I might try that next time.
Thank you so much for choosing this bread and letting me play along.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful bread - and it tastes great, too!

Anonymous said...

thank you for this lovely recipe. It tastes wonderful!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Sara, your loaves are beautiful. I'll be sending my first BBB entry to you tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not too late! I just sent you my entry.

Michael @ said...

Way too late for BBB, but I just made this too and it sure turned out good. Thanks for the braiding tip.