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10.2.11

CHALLAH


And the winner is... Holy cow this is the best! This one is the most amazing breaded loaf I ever tasted; it’s well worth doubling the recipe. You won’t be able to stop eating the first one and then the next day you will be mourning it being all gone. Tall and magnificent, this one didn’t spread out in the baking pan, instead it rose upwards. Fluffy, fluffy light braided loaf and unlike other breads it didn’t deflate when I cut off a slice hot out of the oven. Truly amazing, this recipe is a work of art! From the wonderful book called Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein. The original recipe called for 4-1/2 cups of bread flour. I reduced it to 4 cups and the challah was just right for me. The recipe below reflects the adjustments I made to it. And instead of two small, I made one large four braided loaf. I have to work on my braiding technique though; a 6 braided loaf would have been even higher. Apparently, the height of the challah increases with the number of braids used, the simplest 3 braided loaf being the least of these. All purpose flour will not work all that well, you have to use bread flour to get the desired results. Normally everything has to be room temperature, including the eggs. But according to Mr Greenstein in really hot weather it's advisable to use cold ingredients to keep the dough temperature from becoming too high.

1 cup warm water
2 pkg. active dry yeast (1-1/2 tablespoons)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
vegetable oil, for coating bowl
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water and a pinch of salt, for egg wash
poppy or sesame seeds, for topping (optional)
cornmeal, for dusting baking pan

• In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it soften.
• In a small bowl lightly beat the egg, egg yolks and the oil.
• Add to the yeast mixture in the large bowl.
• In a small bowl combine the sugar and the salt.
• Add to the yeast mixture in the large bowl.
• Add 4 cups minus 1/8 of a cup of the flour to the large bowl.
• Stir until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Add the remaining 1/8 cup of flour to the kneading surface.
• This is important: Knead the dough for 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and the gluten is well developed.
• When you push down, the dough should feel firm and push back.
• Transfer to an oiled bowl, turn to coat, and let rise, covered, until dough is tripled in volume.
• The dough is fully raised when an indentation made with a finger into the center remains and does not recede..
• Punch down the dough, cut in half, cover, and let it rise for 15 minutes.
• Punch down again and, on a very lightly floured work surface, use your palms to roll the 4 long ropes, tapering the ends to a point.
• Braid the challah and transfer to a cornmeal-dusted baking pan.
• Brush with the egg wash, using care to cover completely, but do not let excess egg drip into the crevices.
• Let the egg wash dry and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
• Brush with egg wash a second time.
• Preheat the oven to 350°F.
• Bake for 35 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven until the loaf has a rich mahogany color and emit a hollow sound when tapped lightly on the bottom.
• If the top begins to brown excessively and the bottom is raw, cover the bread with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil that has been creased down the center to form a tent.
• To test for doneness, press lightly between the braids on the highest part of the bread; it should be firm.
• If you feel the creases give when lightly pressed, continue baking until they firm up. Let cool on a wire rack.
• Challah keeps very well for several days in a plastic bag in a bread box.
• It can be frozen; defrost slowly, preferably wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.









   

5 comments:

  1. Ok, so it must be telepathy.... I swear, I don't lie, but since I have crossed out the pogacsa from my baking failures' list, challah is the only one! Even though I managed to make very good yeast (slightly sweet) breads several times, my two unique challah attempts finished in the bin and the last one was two weeks ago! If one day I dare trying challah once more and if your recipe works, I'll start thinking you're a fairy!

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  2. LOL. I know what you mean, the braid I made earlier was good but eh, this challah was better! But I have to try one more challah recipe - http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=AA538E1AE955DAB1 - its Karen making challah on Expert Village - before I decide which recipe to keep using. Besides honey in breads appeals to me. But this was good challah nevertheless.

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  3. Zsuzsa, please cross your fingers! I felt very brave today and am making your challah. It's braided and will soon go to the oven... I'm scared. (As you see in the previous comment my experience with challah is a series of failures...).

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  4. Zsuzsa, as I have written in the mail, your challah is fantastic! Soft, moist and addictive! And it has this typical challah structure i haven't achieved in the previous attempts with different recipes. I have made half of the portion and luckily because I keep on eating it all day... Thank you for this wonderful recipe! (I will post it soon if my clumsy braids prove presentable on the screen ;-) Otherwise, I will certainly make it very soon and hopefully learn braiding!

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  5. Sissi I am delighted it worked for you too, thank you for letting me know. I remember how excited I was when I first made it too and I couldn’t stop eating it. I am grateful to Mr George Greenstein for this wonderful recipe. Many bakers can make good challah but few share their secrets with the rest of us.

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I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has over 900 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. My recipes are organized into a cookbook format. On top of the page click on the cookbook to get access to all my recipes. If I ever figure out how to add a printer friendly gadget I will add it. In the meantime feel free to cut and paste. Happy cooking!

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