I have to commit one thing, I am obsessed about bread-baking. I got motivated from the blog food52. When I saw so many people could make it. I thought of trying it. My first attempt was to try a recipe from red star yeast’s website and it was a regular loaf that I tried. It came out so well that I went crazy that I have try lot more recipes and keep trying trying more different types of bread. So, then I gave dinner rolls a try and they also came out really nice. Although, these attempts were successful , there were several moments when my yeast would not be foam up and so it would spoil the bread. Yeast is the crucial component in bread baking.
Gradually, I decided that I need to broaden my knowledge on bread baking and so I bought a book written by Petre Reinhart’s called The Bread Baker’s Apprentice : Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread on the recommendation of another food blogger friend. She has also tested a recipe in the book. So cool. Right. I Know. Then another blogger friend Bevi from food52 sent me a book called ‘The Italian Baker’ by Carol Field as part of food52 secret santa swap gift. So kind of her. That book is also amazing , along with bread recipes there are some other cool recipes also.
But before I had these two books, I had tried Ima’s Challah recipe from Rivka another food52 member and blogger. The original recipe produced two loaves, so first time I made the exact same recipe and gifted one to one my aunt’s when she had invited us for dinner. Next time, when I decided to make it again, I thought I should halve the recipe so searched her blog and found out the recipe for one loaf. it is seriously amazing recipe for challah. There are lots of recipes out there. But , when I am happy with one of the recipes then I just use it again and again to our liking. Rivka’s recipe calls for some powdered cardamom but I have always avoided the cardamom. Not for any particular reason. Or else those who know me knows that cardamom is one of our favorite flavor profile. Just didn’t feel like using it. But, I am sure it would enhance its taste further more.
So, without wasting your time here to Challah recipe adapted from here
Ingredients: Makes 1 big loaf or 2 small loaves
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 packet (2-1/2 teaspoons) yeast
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1/4 cup water
zest of one orange, totally optional
1 tablespoon honey
or 2-3 tablespoons of milk with honey
Take warm water in a cup and add sugar and sprinkle yeast on top of it. Leave it aside and let the yeast proof.It will take 3 -5 minutes.
Till then mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl of stand mixer. stir it to mix it together just few seconds by rubber spatula.
while the yeast is proofing, mix the wet ingredients and zest of orange together. Once the yeast looks foamy, add it to the dry ingredients and with the help of a dough hook start kneading the dough. Gradually add the wet ingredients also. And, continue kneading for 5-7 minutes, till the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Once in while you might wanna make sure the dough is not stuck in the bottom of the bowl and everything gets incorporated.
Transfer the dough to oiled bowl and oil the dough as well and cover it with a plastic wrap or cloth and leave it to proof and double in the size in a warm spot like a shut oven atleast for an hour or till the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough has rested for an hour, punch the dough and deflate it and let it rise again for an hour or till it doubles.
After the second rise, divide the dough into 3 , 4 or 6 portions and start braiding it. You will have check out some videos on youtube for braiding techniques. It started with 6 braid the first time, but messed up so badly. Then, tried the 3 braided challah.
Start with 3 braid, its easy for beginners to understand. Once it has been braided, leave to proof for 30 minutes or more till it had doubled the original size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F or she recommends 375 F, depends on your oven. Mine is super hot.
Place the braided challah on the baking sheet and brush it with egg/honey or milk /honey.
Bake it for 20-25 minutes until its golden brown in color and feels hollow when you tap it.
Let it cool on wire rack after removing it from the oven. You can store it at room temperature tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Once it becomes stale, you can make a wonderful french toast or bread pudding.
Thanks to Rivka for this awesome recipe.