4.5 cups bread flour
1.25 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons salt
0.25 cup oil
0.25 cup extra flour for a sprinkle while you knead the dough.
1 extra egg for the egg wash before you bake.
2 Tablespoons Ungapatchke Challah™ blend
- In a large mixing bowl, add 3.5 cups of bread flour (you will add the rest later). Make a deep well in the middle and add 1.25 cups of very warm (but not hot) water. The water should be between 95-110 degrees F. Add 1T active dry yeast. This is the kind of yeast that you have to wait for it to bloom. You probably could use the rapid rise type of yeast but I never do. Finally, add 1T (and yes, I tend to do heaping Tablespoons) of granulated cane sugar. Gently swirl the yeast and the sugar together in the well just so that the yeast and sugar are submerged and mingling. Wait 10 minutes. There is something oddly satisfying about watching yeast bloom. But let's face it, I geek out on baking. You can empty the dishwasher, turn on some music or just prepare the rest of the ingredients for the dough while you wait. Or better yet, call your grandma, mom or rebbetzin and tell her you are making challah. She will kvell with such nachas from this!
- Once the yeast has bloomed, add the remaining 3T sugar, oil, eggs and salt.
- Mix, mix, mix together until all the ingredients are combined. You can get a workout in doing this by hand. Or use a stand mixer, first with the mixing paddle until everything is combined and then with the dough hook kneading for 5 minutes. My friend, Lisa, uses a bread machine. Her challot are just as good. Do what works for you! Think of your challah-making time as "me time".
- Then start to add in the remaining flour a little at a time until you get a ball of dough. You will likely use all or most of the remaining cup here. The beautiful thing about challah is that it is VERY forgiving. So forgiving that it will be your best friend. Challah is just there to make you look good in front of friends and family. Always trying her best to be fabulous.
- Turn out the slightly sticky dough ball onto a large, floured cutting board or your super clean kitchen counter. Knead by hand, adding in small amounts of the remaining flour sprinkled over the dough just to keep it from sticking to your hands. Don't add too much flour or your bread will turn out dry. Knead for about 7-10 minutes- depending on if the kids are parading around in costumes and yelling for you to come watch their show or you're desperate to obsessively check your Instagram feed. I don't know anything about either of those situations.
- Oil a large bowl covering the sides and bottom generously. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and then flip it over so that all sides of the ball are covered in a thin layer of oil. This will help keep the dough from drying out as it rises. Cover the bowl with a clean, moist dishtowel and set aside. I moisten the center of the dishtowel with hot water to bring a little warmth to the rising bowl of dough because my kitchen tends to be cold in the morning.
- Let the dough rise for about 90 minutes. It should double in size. This is not an exact measurement but you should see a noticeable difference.
- Punch down the dough, flip it over, shape it into a dough ball again and then cover it with the dishtowel. Set it aside for another 30 minutes of rising. Back to the kids for the second half of that show.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter. Divide the dough into the number of strands you want for your plaiting fun. There are so many You Tube videos demonstrating how to braid with 2, 3, 4, 5+ strands. You can really get creative. Have fun! This recipe yields 2 good sized loaves. It is tradition to have 2 loaves on your Shabbat table. (Cue the Fiddler on the Roof music!) Traditionnnnn! Tradition!
- Lay out your challah on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Beat the egg that is reserved for the egg wash well. I found that if I add an extra egg yolk to the wash, the color of the challah is an even deeper, golden brown. Brush the top of each challah with the egg mixture. Set aside the challah and let it rise- yes, again- for 30 minutes while your oven preheats.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- When you are ready to bake, brush another layer of egg wash and sprinkle some Ungapatchke Challah™ spice blend on your loaf. This is the bedazzling that wows your guests! Don't hold back!
- Bake for about 35 minutes depending on your oven performance. You can check for doneness with a thermometer which should register 190 degrees F. Or you can tap the bottom of a loaf. If it sounds hollow and looks golden brown then you're done! Mazal tov, Superstar! You're a Balabuste! The Host with the Most! Stand back and admire your work. Accept your guests' accolades with pride and love. Hope your challah is better than mine! Let me know how it goes at Susie@meetmykneads.com.