Honey Challah

I have been jonesin to make Challah now for a few weeks.  Pronounced: hallah.  It’s a sweet eggy bread that is delicate on the inside and rich and glossy on the outside.  I have a few recipes for it, but I’m always on the lookout for the B.B.D. – No, not Bell, Biv, Devoe – the Bigger and Better Deal.  I just dated myself, didn’t I?  Ok, anyway, today I asked the Twitterverse if they had any great Challah recipes to which the out pour was fantastic.  There were recipes that had a dozen egg yolks and others with lots of sugar and even one with lemon.  This recipe is my interpretation of many recipes combined.

So let’s go make some Challah, why don’t we?

Start out by adding 1 cup of warm tap water to the bowl of your mixer.  Add 2 packets of active dry yeast, or 4 1/2 teaspoons if you have it in bulk (yes I use a lot of yeast) and a teaspoon of sugar.  Give it a quick stir and then let the yeast get jiggy wit it.

You need a stick of butter at room temp.  Or if you’re like me and don’t ever ever ever think ahead, you can remove the cold stick from the fridge and with the wrapper on, mash it down on the counter a couple of times, flipping it over after each mash.  It works.  Trust me.

You’ll need 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of honey, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons salt and 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour.  Get them all ready as you’ll add them all at once to the blossomed yeast.

Look how fast the yeast blooms.  Yeast + Sugar = Love Forever

Add the butter, flour, salt, sugar, honey and eggs and put on the dough hook.  Let the hook do the work for about 5 minutes.  You don’t want a dry dough, so don’t add more flour.

Slightly sticky and elastic is what you’re going for here.

Drop the dough out on to a lightly floured board and give it about 5 turns and then add it to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with a damp towel and set in a warm draft free spot for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

I usually warm up my oven for a few minutes on the lowest setting and then turn it off.  Leave the light on and let the dough proof for 2 hours.

Punch the dough down and turn out onto a light floured work surface.

Now is the moment when you decide how you want to braid.  I am braiding-challenged, so I just do the 3 braid.  Challah is typically braided with 6 braids, but like I said….challenged.  Divide the dough into 3 or 6 pieces.  Whatever floats your braiding boat.

Roll them out to about 14 inches long on the lightly floured surface.  I use the silicone mat from Pampered Chef.  I love that darned thing.  Well, except when it’s time to wash it.  Then it’s 2 feet of slippery silicone and it’s not so fun to handle.  Enough of that.

Braid it up purdee.

Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I know, I didn’t use parchment, but only because my supermarket was out of it.  I probably bought all they had last time I was there.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another 45 minutes in a draft free area.

Beat up one egg in a small bowl with a fork.  Brush the egg over the entire Challah.

I love how it glistens at this point.  Gorgeous!  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now, don’t go get out the jam and butter right after the Challah comes out of the oven.  Ok, go ahead.  I couldn’t wait either.  My son and I had a little afternoon treat of mixed berry jam, Amish roll butter and warm from the oven Challah.  It was heaven!

Honey Challah
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Ingredients
1 cup warm water
2 envelopes active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 – 5 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 egg beaten, for the egg wash

Directions
1 Add the warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.  Add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Stir briefly and allow to blossom for 5 minutes.

2 Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, honey, butter, 3 eggs, salt and 4 1/2 cups flour to the bowl.  Starting on the slowest setting, mix with the dough hook until the flour is mostly incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth, but not completely dry.  Add more flour if needed to make a soft craggy ball.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 5 turns.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides.  Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm draft free area for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

3 Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.  Using your hands, roll out each piece to a 14 inch rope.  Pinch the three rope ends together and braid loosely.  Pinch the other ends together and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another 45 minutes in a warm draft free place.

4 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg over the entire surface of the dough.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 1 large loaf


Note: You could make smaller dinner sized rolls with this dough, just monitor the cooking time.

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