The Cake Hunter is another stellar addition to my bloglovin account and it is through Sophie's blog that I found this recipe for Challah bread, originally belonging to the Smitten Kitchen. I've been drooling over her Chocolate Torte with Coffee Whiskey Mascarpone and her version of the GBBO challenge Fraisier Cake.
Challah bread is a Jewish yeast bread, traditionally eaten on the Sabbath and special holidays and is considered to be an important way for followers to connect with God. The bread is braided and each one of the six sections represent a different tribe of Israel. It is enriched with eggs and so rises slowly giving greater flavour. To me it is a meeting between a brioche and a white loaf. It is less sweet than a brioche but with a similar soft and delicate texture. I used it to make a chocolate bread pudding so I didn't sprinkle it with seeds as is commonly done. Do so if you wish or knead in 70g raisins or chocolate chips. Or use it to make French toast or spread with jam and butter for a delicious tea time treat.
This is the first time I plaited a loaf BTW. It is a little bit uneven but I was happy for a first try! I have a crazy desire to plait every loaf I make from now on!
Makes 2 large loaves
1 1/2 package fast action dried yeast (11g approx)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp salt
8 cups strong white flour (around 1kg)
1/2 cup olive or veg oil
1. Whisk the yeast, 1 3/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon of the sugar until the yeast dissolves.
2. Add the oil and whisk then beat in the eggs one at a time. Finally beat in the sugar and salt.
3. Gradually add the flour until you have a smooth, not too-sticky dough. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup of extra flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.
4. Knead for 5-10 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Clean out the bowl and oil with 1 tsp oil. Put the dough back in, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Punch the air out of the dough after 1 1/2 hours and allow to rise for another half hour covered. After this you can knead in the raisins or chocolate chips.
6. After the half hour turn out and split in 2. Roll one half into 6 separate balls.
7. Roll each 6 balls into 12 inch long sausages. Place the sausages parallel on a floured counter. Dampen the ends of the sausages on one side with a little bit of water and pinch the ends together. This will be the start of your plait.
8. Now to make your plait! Follow the instructions carefully. The plait may look like a mess but it will come together if you are careful to follow the instructions.
- Move the outside right strand over 2 strands.
- Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right.
- Take the outside left strand and move it over 2.
- Move second strand from the right over to the far left.
10. Brush with beaten egg. Either freeze the loaves at this stage or allow to rise for another hour covered.
11. Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oF.
12. Brush the loaves again with egg. Bake for 30 -40 minutes until golden and the bread is hollow when you turn it over.
13. If freezing defrost for 5 hours at room temperature before baking.