I’ve been making challah like crazy lately. I made 3 batches of challah while on vacation, which resulted in six loaves.
Several weeks ago, I baked my first challah for our Baking Day roundup. I was fairly satisfied with the outcome.
To deepen the flavor, I wanted to experiment with some braiding techniques other than the three-strand braid.
My next attempt used the same recipe, but I incorporated a preferment to give the challah the rich flavor I have become accustomed to. Since my first breads were a bit bland, I doubled the amount of salt.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the outcome. Using a whole egg as the egg wash instead of just egg whites as the previous recipe calls for resulted in a much richer flavor and a deeper golden crust. I was also pleased with the appearance of the 5 braids.
Makes 1 large loaf
For the preferment:
Flour, 1 cupWater at room temperature, 1 cupOne and a third teaspoons instant yeastHere are the ingredients for the loaf:
preferment from above3 cups of flourSugar, 2 tablespoonsSalt, 2 teaspoonsCanola oil, 2 tablespoons1 large egg for the egg wash and 2 large eggs, slightly beatenTwo large egg yolks, slightly beatenGarnish with sesame seeds or poppy seeds
Let the preferment sit out for about one hour until bubbly, then cover and place in the fridge overnight.As soon as the preferment reaches room temperature, scrape it into a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients (except the egg for the egg wash) and stir until it comes together in a ball. You can add a bit more water if it’s too dry, and add some flour if it’s too wet. Mixing is best done with your hands at this point.Knead by hand or with a dough hook on medium speed until it passes the windowpane test, the dough should be smooth but very sticky.Roll the dough around, coating all sides with oil, after lightly oiling your bowl. Cover and let rise for one to one and a half hours, or until doubled in size.Let the dough rise again for about an hour and a half after punching down to degas. Also, knead again for about 2 minutes.A five braid challah is made by dividing the dough into five equal balls. Form the dough into boules and cover for 10 minutes. Once the balls are rolled into reasonable lengths, make them into strands. The braiding can begin. Watch the video below for instructions. There is no point in me attempting to help you with this.
Place the braided loaf on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. It should double in size after brushing with egg wash and being covered. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Add sesame or poppy seeds to the loaf after brushing with egg wash again. Dip your finger into the egg wash, then dip it into the seeds, and roll or press the seeds onto the braided sections.190 degrees Fahrenheit should be reached after 50-60 minutes of baking. Do not overbake as it will dry out.Here is my preferment, bubbling away. My favorite smell in the morning is fermenting yeast.
My braided loaves are ready to go. I doubled the recipe to make two large loaves.
My braiding technique can be improved, but it wasn’t difficult. The front loaf isn’t very uniform. The bottom is too short and stubby. I cut a piece off for tasting. This needs to be corrected.
My mom braided this one, which was more uniform but curvy, almost like an S. My mom braided this one, I believe. Let’s call them rustic challahs.
As a first attempt at a more complicated braid, I thought both of us did a good job.
Compared to the first challah below, this was much better: