It’s Daring Bakers time again! We had a bread challenge this month – to be specific, challah. I love making bread and do it most weekends, but that’s usually just rolls for hubby’s weekday lunches. I had never braided bread before so that was a new and somewhat daunting task! I chose two of the recipes provided. The recipes each yield two loaves, so for the first I made one straight-up and one sweet filled loaf and the second I halved to make one sweet filled loaf, then I made the first recipe again as a pair of seedy loaves.
Recipe makes 2 small loaves
560g all-purpose (plain) flour
240ml warm water
1 sachet dry active yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash
Filling for one loaf (optional)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Topping for one loaf (optional)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Addition for two loaves (optional)
100g mixed seeds (I used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax)
Measure flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl.
In a separate large bowl combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, beat until well combined. Cover with a dish towel, let stand 30 min.
Add two eggs to the dough, beat again.
By hand or with your dough hook, knead in the remaining flour mixture and any additions, if using. Knead approximately 10 minutes.
Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour.
Punch down dough, knead approximately 3 minutes.
Divide dough in two. Shape and fill each loaf as desired (see below for notes on braiding and filling).
I made three-strand braids for all these loaves, according to the method described in this video.
Place loaves on parchment lined baking sheet, cover with a towel, allow to rise one hour.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Brush loaves with egg wash. Sprinkle the unfilled loaf with sesame seeds.
Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 190°C, bake until golden crust forms (about 20-25 minutes, turning the sheet after 10 minutes to ensure even browning).
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Honey White challah
Recipe makes 1 large loaf
180 ml warm water, separated
2 tsp sugar
1 sachet dry active yeast
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp light olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
350g all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more as needed
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash (remainder reserved)
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup sliced almonds, roughly broken into pieces
Remainder of egg wash
3 tbsp sugar
In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup warm water, sugar and yeast. Allow to rest approximately 5 minutes until foamy.
To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt and flour. Knead until smooth, adding extra flour as needed – I ended up adding 4 tablespoons to get a dough of a good consistency. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
Punch dough down and knead until smooth. Shape and fill loaf as desired (see below for notes on braiding and filling).
I made a round four-strand braid for this loaf, according to the method described in this video.
Place loaf on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet, or in a lined round springform pan, cover with a towel and allow to rise an hour.
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Brush top of the loaf with egg wash. Place the extra sugar for the topping in a shallow bowl. Toss the sliced almonds in the remaining egg wash to coat, drain well, then toss in the sugar and sprinkle them over the top of the loaf.
Bake about 40 minutes until golden.
Cool on wire rack.
Notes on braiding and filling
There are two basic methods for forming the strands used to braid challah. The easiest is to simply roll snakes between your hands. The second method is to use a rolling pin to roll out a thin rectangle of dough, then use your hands to roll the rectangle into a snake. This method results in a better rise and is the one you would use to make a filled challah.
When you roll out the pieces into what are going to be strands, spread your filling evenly over the rectangles before rolling into snakes. Make sure to leave a 2cm border along the long edge that you roll towards, as well as at each end, so you can pinch the seams closed.
Whichever method you use, roll your strands so that they are thinner at the ends and fuller in the middle.
The recipes I give here are just as I made these loaves – for other recipe variations (and non-metric measurements etc) and more braiding options (with links to more of Ruth’s excellent videos), check out the .pdf (link below) or enter the blog-checking lines (below) into your favourite search engine to see what my fellow daring bakers did with their challah.
Daring Bakers blog-checking lines: May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
Download the printable .pdf file here.
Important note: There is (or was, the last time I looked) a typo in the .pdf — in the recipe for the Easy Challah, the metric amount of flour says “360g” but it should say “560g”. The mistake was noticed by someone on Daring Bakers and the corrected amount was what I used in this version.
All of these breads were delicious and there are endless variations for filling and shaping the bread. Thanks for a great challenge, Ruth!