but I guarantee it won't be my last. Challah is a traditional Sabbath bread of the European Jews that is full of eggs and rich, luscious tenderness. This is good bread. And it's pretty too. I used Mark Bittman's recipe, and I followed it almost exactly, and I am one happy man that I did so. We enjoyed this with a creamy tomato and tarragon soup on our Sabbath. I know, the Judeo-Christian blend here is unusual, but exciting. Make this; you won't regret it and your soup might even thank you.
adapted from Mark Bittman
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp honey
3 eggs+1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups milk, warmed to room temperature
oil for greasing the bowl and baking sheet
coarse salt for sprinkling
Put 2 cups flour, salt, and yeast in a mixer and give it a whirl to mix them. Add warm milk, eggs, and honey and mix thoroughly. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until it's soft and elastic. It will be yellow and luscious looking like homemade egg pasta. Pull from mixer onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times, then shape into a ball.
Oil a bowl, put dough ball in, and turn to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Deflate and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a nice ball, then cover them and let them rest 10 minutes while you wash the bowl and do a little prep or cleanup.
Roll each ball into a rope about 14" long and 1" thick. Braid them carefully together on a large oiled sheet, trying not to stretch too much, but keeping a tight braid just the same. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375˚F. Beat the egg yolk with 1 tsp water and brush the bread all over with it. Get it ALL over the top and sides. Sprinkle with coarse salt (poppy seeds are also traditional) and pop into the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the bottom sounds hollow, it's a nice, deep golden brown, and if you're crazy like me, the internal temp is around 200˚F. Cool and serve.
- We just pulled this apart at the table. Good times.
- To get a beautiful, symmetric braid, leave the beginning loose instead of knotting it up to start. After you've braided to the end and tucked the ends under oh so gently and beautifully, turn your pan around and do the same thing to the end you started with. That way the loaf will be much closer to symmetric and you'll have a beautiful finish on both ends instead of this glob of dough where you were forced to start your loaf.