The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

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Holla! It’s Challah!

November 17, 2012 , ,

Written and Baked by Pitasushi

Bread baking is a scary endeavor, and that’s why it took me so long to build up the nerve to give it a try. It started with banana bread, which was amazing but pretty much just cake. It escalated to pizza dough when E shared her no-knead recipe with me, and that was good but still not bread. Now let’s get real, I’m both Jewish and an eater, so what kind of person would I be if I didn’t love challah bread? It’s eggy, soft, spongy, has a flaky crust, and makes the sexiest French toast that ever happened. If there’s a bread to make my first, let it be this one.

The recipe was surprisingly simple with just 6 ingredients: flour, yeast, oil, eggs, sugar and salt. Sounded like it could either go to a wonderful place or end horribly wrong, either way it was time to try. Although you don’t necessarily need a stand mixer to make this bread, it definitely helps make things move quickly and smoothly.

Best Challah Adapted from Joan Nathan

1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
1 envelope dry active yeast (5/8 oz.)
1 tablespoon + ½ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 + 1 large eggs
8 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl quickly whisk together the warm water, tablespoon of sugar and yeast. It should look like week old milk. Add in the oil, sugar and salt, then whisk until combined. Begin adding the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition, leaving one egg for glazing. This is the time where the stand mixer will help. If going without, grab a sturdy rubber spatula and get ready to mix. With the dough hook attachment on (or your muscular arm poised) add the flour one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. When all the flour is incorporated it should be a thick, floury mess. If using the dough hook, allow to knead for 3 minutes until very thick and sticky. If kneading by hand, use plenty of flour and knead for 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball, folding the dough into itself until it is round and neat looking. Prepare a VERY large bowl by coating gently with some vegetable oil and throw your dough ball in; it’s time to be patient. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit in a warm place. If your apartments heating sucks as mine does, preheating your oven to its lowest temperature (170° in my case), then shutting it off is an ideal place for the dough to rise. After 1 hour the time has come to take out your aggression. Remove the plastic wrap and with a wet hand, punch down the dough, just don’t hurt nobody. Re-cover with plastic wrap and again allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.

At the end of this second rise it should have doubled in size. Now comes the major choice, to make plain long wide loaves or to braid. Being a huge believer in “if you’re going to do something, do it right”, I thought it was time to yield to ancient forefathers and braid this thing. The dough makes enough for two loaves, so if you’re not feeling fancy cut the dough in half then roll into two even logs…. otherwise, follow the instructions in this youtube video to make your dreams come true.

Place your loaves on a large baking sheet because it’s time for the final glaze! Take your remaining egg and beat it until well scrambled. With a brush, slather on as much egg as you can, you want to really coat these. Sprinkle with salt and allow the loaves to rise for one more hour. As time approaches preheat the oven to 375°. When the hour is up, glaze one more time with the remaining egg and pop them in for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Feel free to eat some immediately, wait a day and make French toast, or wait a week and make bread pudding. No matter what you’ll be happy you tried bread baking.


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Your bread looks wonderful and I applaud you tackling it. I’d love to bake bread but not there yet. I need some challah for my bread pudding recipe I’m serving on Thanksgiving — how many can I order? 🙂


November 17, 2012

I actually considered what the price point would be for something like this… Using good quality ingredients, it only comes out to about $2.50 to bake a loaf. I’m not currently taking orders but I’ll put you on my wait list 🙂


November 19, 2012

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