Challah Back Girl

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Well this is the first post of my own after a long absence, and even though I have records of some pretty decadent meals, I thought one of the best ways of welcoming my return was giving a recipe for this humble yet absolutely delicious challah bread. My mom used to buy us challah bread when I was a kid, and something about it only being available on Friday made it extra special. Some people might claim that bread is bread is bread, but challah’s sweet simplicity really takes it beyond your normal bread.

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I’m still not super experienced with bread baking, so this recipe made me a little nervous (especially since our house is so cold and drafty, I didn’t think it would rise well), and I think I used a little too much yeast, but it turned our phenomenally. The smell of the bread baking is enough to drive you crazy, and one of my favorite things has got to be slowly tearing apart the bread’s woven strands. It’s perfect by itself or with some butter and jam.

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Want to use your challah like sliced bread? It also makes a gosh-dern good grilled cheese sandwich.

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Challah Bread
(original recipe Neiman Marcus Taste)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 1/2 packages)
5 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional) [but awesome!]

Method
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the water, 1 1/4 cups of the flour, the salt, and the oil. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. (Alternatively, the dough can be mixed by hand in a large bowl.) Add 2 of the eggs, the remaining 4 tablespoons sguar, and half of the remaining flour and mix until incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes; if the dough is too wet, add a little more flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a slightly damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 12-inch baking sheet.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll them into strips about 8 inches long. Press the 3 strips together at one end and then braid the dough strips, crossing the strop on the left under the middle strip, then the right strip under the middle, and so on 6 or 7 times, until you complete the braid. Pinch the ends together and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Let rise for another 10 minutes. Whisk the remaining egg in a cup or bowl and brush the load with the egg wash; sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Note: Feel free to add a little more sugar if you like a sweeter challah. Also, you can make unbraided mini-loaves for sandwiches.

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2 Responses to “Challah Back Girl”


  1. 1 Robin March 21, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Welcome Back! The challah looks delicious… and that grilled cheese, yum.


  1. 1 Challah Bread | Crafty Natalie Trackback on March 27, 2008 at 12:35 pm

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