Friday, October 24, 2008

Challah

After seeing this recipe from the Bread Baking Babes for Challah, a traditional Jewish celebratory bread, I absolutely had to try it. It looked complicated but I realized the end result was sure to impress. And I was right - about the impressive part! But it really was very easy to make. For the directions, please see the recipe on I Like To Cook. She has impressive step-by-step photos too.


Challah
(from the New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook)

5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups Flour, unsifted
3 tbsp 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

Stir the saffron into the warm water and stir until it dissolves.

Combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. 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).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal halves. 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. The dough was smooth and elastic and really easy to braid - I was sure this was going to be the tough part but it was actually fun to do.


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 (I left this out), 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.

(yeah one of them got a little lopsided!)

44 comments:

Divya Vikram said...

Just perfect! Perfect golden color! Another one from ur baking spree!

Sia said...

amazing work done arundati... challah never looked so gorgeous before :)

Purnima said...

Arundathi, thats a lovely golden color n looks fluffy too! What a neat job! Just cant take my eyes off those braids! Thks for sharing!

Nidhi said...

Thats a perfectly braided bread! Very impressive.

Pallavi said...

Very nice one.. ! I have been wanting to make the Challah from a while.. !! This gets me more interested :)

Srivalli said...

Anu that one is a sure winner...would love to have this the next we meet ok...pls...:)

anudivya said...

That looks awesome. I made a whole wheat version, but this sure looks great.

arundati said...

WOMAN!! this looks store bought!! its perfect....

Curry Leaf said...

Perfect bread,neat and golden outside.Professional perfection.I always admire your bread baking skills.I have to struggle with bread most of times and always feel so stressed out not knowing whether I am doing correctly or not.But the end result is worth all the work,well most f times ie.
You r truly professional,I am in awe of you.Cheers

Bharti said...

Beautiful! You could just start giving bread baking classes dude.

Happy cook said...

It looks fabulous.
Wasn't it really relaxing to braid the bread. I thought them while i was making them.
Your braid looks so beautiful.

Priya said...

Fabulous...delicious..challah looks really cute..seems u r professional bakers...superb..

Helene said...

Thanks for visiting my site. This is nice of you. I never tasted Challah before. You did a very good looking one.

Arundathi said...

Divya Vikram - Thank you!

Sia - :-) oh yes it does - check out the other bread baking babes!

Purnima The braids make it look all glamorous!

Nidhi - thank you!

Pallavi - You should try it - its such a fabulous bread

Srivalli - It has eggs though, valli - you might not be able to eat it, right?

Anudivya - A ww version? thats great - have to check it out!

Arundati - thanks babe! thats a huge compliment!

Curry Leaf - Oh thanks so so much! Yes, the end results are always worth it!

Bharti - haha!! not really but i think i'll start attending some classes!

Happy Cook - Yes the braiding was teh best part - I enjoyed it - and it was so much easier than I was expecting. Have to go check yours out.

Priya - Not at all - but thanks

Helene - thank you - you have a lovely blog!

Holler said...

Such pretty looking bread, it seems a shame to break into it! You did a very good job of knotting it. I am sure it would have looked nothing like that, if I had made it :)

Ranjani said...

OMG- SO GORGEOUS!!

i really admire your patience, and dedication when it comes to baking! You make EVERYTHING look so beautiful!

DEESHA said...

looks just perfect .. Gosh U have soo much patience, seriously

Priya said...

Arundathi..pls collect hardblogger award from my blog .. u deserve it...

http://priyaeasyntastyrecipes.blogspot.com/2008/10/hard-working-food-blogger-award.html

Passionate About Baking said...

Impressive indeed Arundathi...very very neat too!

Curry Leaf said...

HAPPY DIWALI !!

Sara said...

Wow they look beautiful, and they kept their definition so well, I'm jealous! Thanks for baking with us.

maybelle's mom said...

delicious, it is very good toasted with chocolate and dipped in soup too. BTW, thanks for visiting

Pearlsofeast said...

Beautifully knotted, I love this bread and the smell when baked.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So you were surprised this was not as complicated as the potato bread.
Beautiful loaves! Thanks for baking with us!

Lien said...

What fantastic loaves you baked there!! They look amazing!

Baking Soda said...

Oh look at those braids, so nice and even! Gorgeous result! Thanks for baking with us!

natalia said...

Dear Arundathi you loaves are really spectacular ! I made a bit of a mess with mine but they tasted great !

delhibelle said...

beautiful..i love how your challah is so tightly braided and all:)

Arundathi said...

Holler - oh thank you - but i'm sure it would've looked better! :-)

Ranjani - Thank you so much dear Ranjani! thats really nice of you!

Deesha - :-) thanks

Priya - thanks - and congrats on your award

Deeba - Thank you!

Curry Leaf - Happy Deepavalli to you too!

Sara - It was a pleasure - I really enjoyed it

Maybelle's mom - Yup, we had it with some mushroom soup and it was incredibly good.

Pearlsofeast - Yes the smell was lovely! thank you

My Kitchen In Half Cups - Yes I enjoyed the braiding and it was definitely an easier dough compared to the potato. Thank you.

Lien - Thank you so much!

Baking Soda - Thank you - the braiding was the best part!

Natalia - Yes it really did taste great!

Delhibelle - lol thanks - had to braid them twice to make it tight enough!

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Wow the challas impressed me... I happened to watch videos on the food channel I thought that was perfect but your is divine...

farida said...

Nice looking challah! Your braids look so neat:) Loved it!

raaji said...

Lovely braids!!!!Looks so neat and proffesiional......

Happy Diwali!!!!!

Dragon said...

So beautiful! I wish I could have some right now. Pass the butter, please. :)

Ramya said...

Fabulous Braided bread - WOW! Hope you had a Blast...

Collect your Diwali Treat at http://ramya65.blogspot.com/2008/10/chocoholic-award.html

Vera said...

What a beautiful challah, Arundathi!
I love this bread. Nothing ever goes to waste, since the bread puddings are so fabulous from it.

A kitchen scientist & a white rat hubby!!! said...

wow..u call that the double-decker challah...tried it out for the first time...this week...

nice place u have here


rgds,
sona

Raaga said...

Amazing Anu... this looks so good... next time I come to Madras... I want a homemade loaf... OK?

Mary said...

Your loaves are absolutely beautiful. What a nice job!

mitr_bayarea said...

Challah looks so perfect in its briaded twist...

Arundathi said...

Ramya Vijaykumar - thank you so much - so thrilled you compared it to professional braiding!

Farida - Thank you!

Raaji - Happy Diwali to you too!

Dragon - I wish I could have some too - all gone. Would've liked so have kept some for some french toast!

Ramya - Thanks for the diwali treat! Yes i had lots of fun braiding.

Vera - I have to make some more again soon - I've got so many ideas now for using the challah!

A Kitchen Scientist & A White Rat Hubby - Thanks Sona - Yes, its a double decker for sure - did you enjoy yours?

Raaga - Definitely Babe!

Mary - Thank you!

Mitr_bayarea - thank you.

Jude said...

It's so impressive once done but a bit intimidating at first wasn't it?

Arundathi said...

Jude - yup quite intimidating when you first start off looking at those braids that need to be done!

Aparna said...

I saw this bread at Jude's and am planning to make it too. :)

Arundathi said...

Aparna - Let me know how yours turns out. I loved it. And don't forget you can make french toast and bread and butter pudding from it - its absolutely perfect.