Challah

Challah is made with a dough rich with egg and sugar. The texture is soft and the flavor sweet. Perfect for a wine tasting, served with fig preserves and nuts.

Servings: 1 loaf

Cook Time: 4+ hours

Pair With: Goes with any wine. Great with fig preserves and nuts for a wine tasting.

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy Tama Takahashi, Touring & Tasting Food Editor

INGREDIENTS

1 package active dry yeast (or 3/4 tablespoon)

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1 tablespoon 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

spray oil

4 eggs, in two parts: 3 then 1

1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt

1 cup bread flour

3 or more cups all-purpose flour

Approximately 1/8 cup black sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

Combine the yeast, water and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large mixing bowl to proof the yeast. If the mixture starts to look foamy after a couple of minutes, the yeast is active and "proofed". If not, discard and start over with new yeast. Whisk in the oil, 3 of the eggs, and sugar. Sift 1 cup bread flour, 3 cups all-purpose flour and the salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients with a spatula. When the dough starts coming together, knead it in the bowl with your hands, adding more all-purpose flour if needed to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic and meets the "window pane" test*. This will take 10-20 minutes. Round the dough by folding the edges underneath it so the top surface is smooth.

 

Spray the mixing bowl with oil and put the dough in with the smooth top up. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the unlit oven or other warm place (70 degrees is ideal) and let rise for an hour. Punch down the dough by punching it with your fist--do not fold the dough. Re-wrap the bowl with the plastic and let rise another 1/2 hour.

 

Using a scale, portion out your dough--either in three pieces for 3 braid challah, or 6 for 6 braid (pictured). Challah can also be shaped into a single loaf. Roll your braid pieces into rolls about 16" long and pinch the tops together. I use a chip clip to clip them together while I braid because they resist sticking together. Braid the challah, clip the ends together and carefully place on a piece of parchment paper on your baking sheet. Remove the clips and tuck the ends under the dough. Pat the challah into symmetry with your hands.

 

Whisk the last egg in a small bowl and brush the egg wash all over the challah, including the seams between the braids. Let rise another hour. Half an hour into the rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the challah again with the egg wash after the hour's rising and sprinkle black sesame seeds over the top liberally.

 

Bake for 30 or 40 minutes until nicely browned. But, do not overbake! The challah should be fully cooked inside but still soft. Ideally, you have a thermometer with a probe to check for an internal temperature of 190 degrees for doneness. Cool the challah on a rack until just warm--if you try to cut the hot challah, it will collapse a bit inside. It's hard to wait, but worth it!

 

*Windowpane test: if the dough can be stretched out so you can see light behind it without the dough tearing, then the dough passes the windowpane test.

     

 

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