For the first time I baked bread by hand. Yes, I have used and loved my bread machine since I got it for our wedding in July. But challah needs to be baked by hand because of the traditional braid. I’ve got a great 1970’s looking book The Complete Family Guide to Jewish Holidays that has a nice, basic “fool proof recipe for children”.
I made sure my house was warm enough for the dough to rise properly, I had the heater on, was baking other things, and washing copious dishes in hot or warm water.
The kneading wasn’t hard. The most difficult part is timing, and knowing when its ready. Has this risen long enough? Did I knead it enough? Has it risen enough while being braided? Its some trial and error, without a concrete answer. It depends on the bread, on the yeast, on the room temp, etc.
Here’s me with my little helper, Milo.
Left over challah makes great french toast.
Challah- Paraphrased from the book.
1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup hot water
5 cups bread flour
1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water for glazing
1. Mix sugar, salt, oil, & hot water to dissolve.
2. When water is lukewarm, add the yeast and let it dissolve. Then add eggs and 4 1/2 cups of flour. Mix, then knead for five minutes.
3. Grease a large bowl. Cover the dough and let it rise to double in size, about 90 minutes.
4. Punch the dough and knead it.
5. For my loaf, I made one massive one. I divided the dough into 4 balls, rolled those into long strands. Lay those on a greased cookie sheet and pinch one end of the strands together. Take the strand on the right and go over, under, and over the other strands. Repeat until you can pinch the rest together and tuck it under neatly.
6. Cover your braided loaf and let it rise again. Mine took about 40 minutes. The dough gets nice and taught.
7. Brush with yolk glaze and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.