Sunday, May 27, 2012

Say "Challah"!

I think it's remarkable how becoming a parent changes you. It seems like it changes everything for a while. I feel like now, after almost a full year has passed since I became Mommy, I have finally returned to myself again.

Lots of things went by the wayside when I got pregnant including one little project I had just started: The Daring Bakers Challenge. Each month, a group of bloggers take that month's challenge to bake something more demanding than usual. I loved it while I was participating, but it soon became too much for me and I had to set is aside for a while.

Just after shaping, ready for second rise.
This month seemed like good timing to get back in the game. For weeks, my husband had been requesting French Toast for our Friday night Breakfast for Dinner, and I had been on the hunt for challah bread at my local grocers, with no success, and I had resolved to just make my own. So imagine my delight when this month's Daring Bakers Challenge turned out to be challah!

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.

After 1 hour rise, brushing with egg wash for that perfect golden crust.

I picked the easiest recipe I could find, and I am so pleased with the results! I mean, look at it! It came out beautifully browned with a thin crust and was soft, and sweet inside. I had to hold myself back from eating it right out of the oven -- it smelled so amazing! I'm telling you, there is no smell quite as pleasant as bread baking in your oven. Best air freshener in the world!

Fresh from the oven!
And, for the record, the French Toast we made of it was fabulous. But I loved the bread plain with some homemade raspberry jam from a good friend (thanks, again, friend!).

Easy Challah

4 c. (500 gm/20 oz) all-purpose flour
1 c. warm water
1 pkg./2¼ tsp. rapid rise/quick rise/highly active yeast
1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water (egg wash)

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl, and set aside. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy. (Mine never did get super foamy and things worked out fine anyhow, just saying)

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, and 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. Knead
approximately 10 minutes.

Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour. Punch down dough, and knead for about 3 minutes. Divide dough into equal parts and roll into long strands to shape as desired (3, 4, or 6 strand braid -- I stuck with a simple 3-strander).

Place loaves on parchment covered or greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise
one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush loaf with egg wash.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake until
golden crust forms (mine took about 15-20 minutes, but yours might take as long as 30).

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


  1. Great job! Your challah does look amazing, and I bet it was great with homemade jam! I keep eating mine with some homemade apple butter a friend gave me (aren't friends awesome!) I love the idea of having breakfast for dinner every Friday, too! Brinner is one of my favorites! :) Glad you finally found some time to bake again, the Daring Bakers is one of the things I try to make time for each month, even if my toddler ends up helping me!

    1. Thanks, Jenni! I'm really excited to me back in the swing of things again.

  2. Yum. That looks incredible! And challah is not an easy feat... we used to make it at the grocery-store bakery I work in, and we had to stop because it was too time consuming. A lot of unhappy customers! Such a delicious bread. Good for you!!

    1. Thanks, Andrea! Now I know why it was so difficult to find around town!

  3. I agree, bread baking in the oven is one of the best smells in the world :) This is a beautiful challah. Welcome back to the group!

    1. Thanks, Korena! Yours look perfect -- you're my challah idol!

  4. Your challah looks so lovely with the brightness of the home made jam. I bet it tasted as amazing as it looks!

    1. Thank you, cakecrumbs! I say everything is better with homemade jam, especially homemade bread of any sort. Wouldn't you agree?

  5. Your challah looks amazing. And I agree, I love the tradition you have of a weekly breakfast for dinner! Congratulations on getting back intothe challenges, and on your wonderful baby! (My younger daughter turns one next week... hasn't this year just flown by for you?!) That top picture of the sliced loaf and the raspberry jam pulled me in. The crumb of your bread looks heavenly! Thank you so much for baking with me this month!

    1. Thank you, Ruth! And thanks for the fun challenge this month! This year with my little guy has certainly flown by in record time, just as everyone told me it would. ;D

  6. Great job on the've got the perfect braid.looks great. I am sure it wud have tasted great with the home made jam:)

  7. Your french toast with some homemade raspberry jam looks so yummy!!!
    Beautiful Challah:) You did a great job on this challenge!

  8. That is a beautiful loaf! My favorite was just to eat it simply also. :)

  9. I made this bread yesterday and it turned out really good! But for some reason I didn't use all the flour that was asked for, over 1 cup. It was quite hard to knead it by hand. Maybe someday when I have a fancy stand up mixer it will be easier to use all 4 cups but all that matters is that it turned out delish!
    Thanks for sharing it!

    1. I'm glad it turned out for you, Nadja! I know when making bread the amount of flour you need can vary due to a number of factors. Maybe your eggs were smaller, or maybe the air was dry, giving you less moisture to sop up all that flour. And a stand mixer does help. ;D In any case, good bread is good bread!


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