Challah Braided Bread Recipe

Last night it was time again for me to make a daily bread for my family. My husband, S, loves to eat bread for breakfast. My son also started to like eating bread for his breakfast. As for myself, I love every kind of breads. You could say, we’re a family of carboholic!

I was perusing my recipes to look for something new to make and I came across this challah (pronounced HA-la) recipe from Saveur magazine. Although we’re not Jewish, I’ve always wanted to try to make challah because I know we all love the sweetness and the tenderness of it. So, why not give it a try?

The history of challah is quite interesting, I think, and here is the quote from the article that accompanied the recipe at this blog http://bllblog.org:

“Challah has its origins in the 12 round loaves, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, that were baked weekly and displayed each Sabbath in the tabernacle the Jews used as they made their way through the Sinai desert more than 3,000 years ago. Loaves were later exhibited in the Temple in Jerusalem until the Second Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. But this bread-making tradition continued in the home, 12 loaves becoming two to symbolize the double portion of food (manna) that according to the Bible, the Jews received in the Sinai every Friday.

The name challah was being applied to the loaves in Europe by the 15th century. Originally, whenever a batch of it was made, a small portion of the dough, called challah—the word derives from the Hebrew verb halal, menaing to pierce (the loaves may once have been perforated)—was given to the high priests as an offering to God.

Today, a piece of dough is often removed but is burned instead while a blessing is recited. Challah eventually became a braided bread (though other forms occur, too), likely based on similar breads popular throughout medieval Europe—and that’s the form we most often see it in today (by Shosana Goldberg).”

I didn’t know that the word halal came from the Hebrew, I’ve always thought of it as an Arabic word. I was born in Indonesia, so I knew a lot of Moslems must buy and eat food that’s halal. I learn new thing just by baking a bread!

The bread came out perfect, except for my braiding technique is still need to be perfected. The inside is soft, the crust is just right. I wouldn’t buy commercial challah bread anymore!

Challah

Source: The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
5 eggs
1 Tablespoon salt
9 1/4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in 2 1/4 cups lukewarm water in a small bowl and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil and set aside. Grease 2 large or 4 medium baking sheets with 2 teaspoons of the oil and set aside.
  2. Using a kitchen spoon, beat 4 of the eggs in another large bowl, then beat in salt and the remaining sugar and 1/2 cup oil. Add yeast mixture and beat until well combined. Gradually add flour, stirring until dough is stiff. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 15 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to prepared bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm spot, to let rise until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, divide into 12 equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Set dough balls aside about 2 inches apart, cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 10 minutes. Roll dough balls into 12 inches-long ropes.
  4. To make the six-strand braided loaves, line up 6 of the ropes lengthwise on each large baking sheet, or, to make the three-strand braided loaves, line up 3 of the ropes lengthwise on each medium baking sheet. Position baking sheets perpendicular to you. Join ends or ropes at top of baking sheet and pich together. Braid each loaf, join ends of rope at bottom of baking sheet, pinch together, and tuck ends under both ends of loaves. Loosely cover loaves with damp kitchen towels or plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes.
  5. Beat the remaining egg and 1 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. Brush tops of loaves with some of the egg wash, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds (if using), then bake until loaves are deep brown and hollow sounding when tapped, 45-60 minutes. Set loaves aside on a rack to cool.
    Makes : 2 six-strand or 4 three-strand loaves