Challah

 
You’re probably tired of me talking about the boule recipe I’ve been making, which is now a staple in our house. I can’t tell you how many loaves I’ve made since. And look, I’ve even ventured outside my favorite scallop pattern.

 

boule-8238 cropped

 
As flavorful as that bread is, it was only a matter of time before my sweet tooth started asking for something different.

 
Everyone in my mom’s side of the family has a sweet tooth. I have a cousin who used to keep a bag of chocolates near her pillow, in case she had a craving in the middle of the night. (She’s much better now. She keeps them on the bench by the foot of her bed.) And my uncle has been known to stash candy bars in various places around his house—his desk drawer, inside his briefcase, in the library, in the bedroom … he’d keep it in his car, if it wouldn’t melt in the heat.

 
Now that I think about it, maybe we just have a food tooth, since we’re pretty much the same way with anything that tastes good. I guess it’s just much harder to stash, say, steak or paella inside a drawer or nightstand.

 
Of course, I’ve been known to sleep next to a giant bar of Toblerone, so I’m not judging.

 
Now that we’ve established the fact that I come from a long line of omnivores with a mild obsession with food, let’s get back to my bread. A few days ago, I decided to try the challah recipe from Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day. Let me back up a bit. I initially planned to do the brioche recipe, but saw that one batch (keep in mind that a batch of dough makes multiple loaves) required three sticks of butter. Now, of course I’m not one to balk at the thought of using three sticks of butter, since I did, after all, share my “The Bar” recipe with all of you. But I just wasn’t quite ready to go from the boule to something as rich as that, so I settled instead on the challah recipe, thinking I could also use it as sandwich bread.

 
The challah recipe is an enriched dough recipe, so it has honey, butter, and eggs. The method is pretty much the same, and although I was a bit concerned about the dough being wetter than the boule dough, the book’s authors assured me (via Twitter) that the dough will feel better after a bit of refrigeration. Wet or not, this dough smelled amazing. I was sorely tempted to taste it unbaked.

 

 
When the dough was ready, I followed the instructions to create a braided loaf. After about an hour and a half of resting, I brushed it with an egg wash and sprinkled it with sesame seeds. Then into the oven it went.

 

challah braid

 
My kitchen was filled with the aroma of this sweet, rich bread. What I loved about it was that I didn’t have to wait too long to sample it, unlike the boule which should really rest until it comes to room temperature. I took a few photos as soon as it came out of the oven, then broke off a piece to taste.

 
challa inside

 
This bread was light, moist, slightly sweet, and incredibly delicious on its own, without any butter or jam. It was soft, almost with the texture of light potato bread, and I love that it has honey instead of regular sugar. It’s much easier to bake, too. Lower temperature, on a cookie sheet, and no steam needed.

 
The loaf practically disappeared in half an hour, which gave me an excuse to make more.

 

challah rolls-8250

 
Yep, they worked as rolls, too. I made these with the intention of bringing them over to a dinner party.

 
I stacked them nice and pretty, and was already imagining how big of a hit they’d be.

 

challah rolls-8241

 
I’m still imagining it, because these rolls? They … uhm … never quite made it out of the house.

 
And if we’re friends, you wouldn’t go checking my drawers and nightstands.

 
 
—————————
 
Challah
(with permission from the authors of Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day)
 
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (or a neutral-tasting oil, such as canola), plus more for greasing the cookie sheet
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 tablespoon water)
poppy or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

 
Makes four 1-pound loaves.

 
To make the dough, mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, melted butter or oil, and water in a bowl or container (at least 5-qt in size) that you can cover later. Then, using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour. Again, no need to knead this. (You can also mix this in a 14-cup food processor or a mixer with a dough hook attachment.) Mix until there are no more dry streaks of flour left.

 
Cover (but not airtight) and let rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. The dough will rise and then fall down a bit. When it does, it’s done and you can either use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator. The dough is quite sticky and easier to handle cold. (Since this is an enriched dough, plan to use it within 5 days. Beyond that, freeze it in 1-pound portions and it will last for up to 4 weeks in the freezer if stored in an airtight container. If you do freeze the dough, make sure you defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using it.)

 
When ready to bake, take a cookie sheet and either grease it, line it with parchment paper, or lay a silicone mat in it. Dust some flour on the surface of the dough and take a 1-pound chunk of dough (about the size of a grapefruit). Dust it with a bit more flour and quickly shape it the way you would a boule, gently pulling the sides of the dough toward the bottom while rotating the dough. It should take you less than a minute to get a round shape with a smooth surface.

 
To make a braided loaf, divide the dough into three portions and roll each portion into a long rope. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. When you have the ropes shaped, braid them starting from the center and working toward one end, then turn it over and work again toward the other end. This gives you a more evenly-shaped braid. (To make the rolls, simply take small 1-inch balls of dough, roll them gently, and place three balls in each well of a well-greased cupcake or muffin pan.)

 
Let the loaf or rolls rest and rise on the cookie sheet for at least 40 minutes if fresh, and at least 1 hour and 20 minutes if it was refrigerated. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If baking it in a cookie sheet and not a stone (which is what I did), the oven only needs to preheat for about 5 minutes. Brush the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle it with the poppy or sesame seeds.

 
Bake the loaf near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, adjusting the time if you are baking different-sized loaves. (For the rolls, I baked them for about 20 minutes.) When done, the challah will be golden brown, and the braids near the center of the loaf will give resistance when pressed. Challah doesn’t have the hard crust of a boule because of the fat in the dough (and we didn’t use steam either). And okay, you’re supposed to let it cool first before eating, but I couldn’t wait.

 

challah broken off piece

 
Trust me, if this came out of your oven, you wouldn’t be able to wait either.

 
 

35 Responses to Challah
  1. Melanie
    February 7, 2010 | 11:06 am

    I really should not have read this before having breakfast or lunch. My mouth is watering! It looks delicious.

  2. Liberty London Girl
    February 7, 2010 | 11:10 am

    Sweet mother of God! I HAVE to bake this myself. Wow. LLGxx

  3. EE
    February 7, 2010 | 12:07 pm

    Challah makes the MOST awesome french toast

  4. LaJuana
    February 7, 2010 | 1:07 pm

    LoL! Love your post! Haven’t tried the Challah yet…but the Brioche in ABin5 is wonderful…by all means try it… and I’m going to try the Challah! If I didn’t have the Buttermilk Dough AND a WW blend in the fridge right now i’d do it today. I’m baking my way thru HBin5 now but still go back every few days to something out of the ABin5….just TOO good!

  5. Zoë François
    February 7, 2010 | 3:29 pm

    You have outdone yourself with these loaves! They are stunning. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for baking bread with all of us!

    Happy Baking! Zoë

    • ivoryhut
      February 10, 2010 | 8:25 pm

      Thanks again, Zoë! The aroma of this bread as it bakes is irresistible. I can’t wait to try the brioche. My mom was about to buy this expensive package of brie wrapped in brioche, and I asked her to wait a bit until I get to the brioche dough. :)

  6. debbie
    February 7, 2010 | 4:35 pm

    I’m a Pioneer Woman follower and was intrigued by her mention of your bread – then I got a glimpse of your photos and I can practically smell it! You made me drool and get inspired at the same time. I will be attempting this recipe next Saturday morning and will let you know how it goes.
    Thank you!

  7. Dandy
    February 7, 2010 | 7:36 pm

    Its incredibly gorgeous, I can only imgaine how delicious it is!

  8. Jamie
    February 7, 2010 | 7:38 pm

    We are enjoying your delicious bread while watching the Superbowl. Thank you for the great posts on Pioneer Woman’s blog and this fantastic recipe. You guys are so talented!

    Jamie Clark
    Muldrow, OK

  9. TJ at Any Given Moment
    February 7, 2010 | 8:39 pm

    Oh Joy! I bake most of my own breads and I’ve been so looking for a challah recipe that not only worked, but was quick, easy and came with good recommendations. Yay! I will have to try this recipe, but it sounds like I should make a few loaves so I actually would have enough left over for french toast LOL :)

  10. glutenglum
    February 8, 2010 | 12:18 am

    has anyone tried this recipe with gluten free flour? i’d love to make rolls or buns. i’ve mostly using domata and better batter flour.

  11. kanniduba
    February 8, 2010 | 12:47 pm

    YOU……ARE………….EVIL.

  12. Tupper Cooks
    February 8, 2010 | 2:19 pm

    Super- I’ve been making the boule for over a month now at least a couple times a week-and for the effort involved, it’s a great loaf-But it’s time to try another and you’ve just supplied me with tonights bread- Thanks-

  13. karma
    February 8, 2010 | 5:39 pm

    This looks soooo good. How do I keep getting suckered into wanting to make your recipes? ;-)

  14. Rosie
    February 9, 2010 | 2:24 am

    They should pay you because between this and the boule, you have completely convinced me to buy their book.

  15. Meredith
    February 10, 2010 | 12:34 pm

    I just made the dough and it’s resting now. Even the dough tasted great! Can’t wait to smell it baking in the oven :) Thanks for the recipe!

    • Meredith
      February 10, 2010 | 3:57 pm

      Came out of the oven about 10 minutes ago….it’s delicious! I halved the recipe (it’s just the hubby and me) and was afraid of getting the measurements exactly right, but it tastes good to me! My loaves look a bit denser than yours, though.

  16. ivoryhut
    February 10, 2010 | 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone! (Yes, even those of you who called me evil. Haha.) Hope all your bread-making exploits are going well!

    • kanniduba
      February 11, 2010 | 3:41 pm

      Now that’s love baby…you know you’re one of my favorites when I call you evil. ;)

  17. Sarah
    February 12, 2010 | 12:04 pm

    This looks amazing! I’m trying this recipe this weekend!

  18. Gail
    March 11, 2010 | 3:44 pm

    Question: How long did you bake the mysteriously missing challah rolls? And at what temperature?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • ivoryhut
      March 11, 2010 | 3:46 pm

      About 20 minutes at 350 degrees, Gail!

  19. mch
    March 12, 2010 | 10:06 am

    I made this recipe a few weeks ago & it was a big hit. Like you, we couldn’t wait until it cooled so we ate it straight out of the oven. In fact, the entire loaf was gone within 15 minutes! I planned to bake a couple of loaves to serve tomorrow evening when my dad & my brothers come for dinner. My daughter was disappointed when I told her that. She was looking forward to having some for lunch today so there’s a loaf in the oven at the moment & the rest of the dough is waiting to be baked tomorrow. That way, everyone is happy. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  20. Keven Mcmanamy
    May 15, 2010 | 3:01 am

    I got to this site by searching Yahoo. I have to say that this looks enticing. Thanks for taking your time posting this recipe!

  21. Dalnapen
    May 25, 2010 | 11:40 am

    Thanks, IH. I, too, made the boule with great success and will love to try this one. Question: What is granulated yeast–do you have a brand name you could share?

    • ivoryhut
      May 25, 2010 | 12:06 pm

      Hi Dalnapen! I used regular active dry yeast (Red Star brand, which I buy in bulk from Costco).

  22. Maggy
    June 4, 2010 | 10:15 am

    Love this Challah! It’s absolutely beautiful. Would holla at sandwich with those rolls. But I’d probably eat them all straight out of the oven, LOL.

  23. Jenny Flake
    June 4, 2010 | 10:28 am

    Gorgeous bread!! Lovely photos!!

  24. Michelle
    June 4, 2010 | 10:50 am

    Wonderful crumb and your photos are gorgeous!

  25. Jen @ How To: Simplify
    June 4, 2010 | 3:04 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful! I love this recipe!

  26. Tracy
    June 4, 2010 | 3:38 pm

    I love challah, and I love ABin5. :-) I haven’t tried a braided loaf with the dough yet though, and I need to!

  27. Cookin' Canuck
    June 4, 2010 | 6:31 pm

    What a beautiful loaf of challah! I adore Zoe Francois books and will have to give this recipe a go.

  28. Fuji Mama
    June 7, 2010 | 1:08 pm

    Gorgeous challah! Thank goodness for the ABin5 book!

  29. wood nymph « metamorphoseuse
    April 10, 2012 | 11:38 am

    [...] got to introduce a whole new slew of people to the deliciousness that is challah. This is the recipe I kinda, sorta follow. [...]

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about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.



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