|Challah bread, eggy, buttery, and delicious!|
|Traditional challah braid|
An artisan bread recipe was introduced to me by a friend, who was given the recipe by a Pampered Chef representative. I tried that recipe, but I also found one in the America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book. (I liked this recipe because of the slightly sourdough flavor.) And further research also lead me to this website (http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/) and their cookbook (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois).
The recipes in the book are different from the other two mentioned above in that they make dough that makes several loaves of bread, rather than just one loaf. (The rest of the dough is stored in the refrigerator or frozen for later use.) The recipe below is for half the normal recipe, and I baked the whole batch in an 8” x 4” loaf pan.
Recipe can be doubled or quadrupled
1 packet of yeast (2 ¼ teaspoon)
2 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ C honey
¼ C melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
7/8 C lukewarm water________________
3 ½ C unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)
Sesame or poppy seeds for top
In a large bowl mix together the ingredients above the line. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, large-capacity food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2-3 hours.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.
(Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using. Then allow the usual rest and rise time.)
On baking day, butter or grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
You can then braid it as is traditional. (See book, pp. 181-2 for further instructions or click how-to-six-strand-braided-challah using all the bread dough for a 6-strand braid.)
(I formed 2 dough balls using all the dough, and placed them into a greased 8” x 4” loaf pan, separated by a greased piece of foil, so I would have 2 smaller loaves.)
Allow the bread to rest and rise for 80 minutes (or 40 minutes if you are using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
Preheat the oven to 350. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if desired. (I forgot to do this.)
Bake near the center of the over for about 25-35 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. The challah is done when golden brown, and the braids near the center of the loaf offer resistance to pressure. Due to the fat in the dough, challah will not for a hard, crackling crust.
Allow to cool before slicing or eating.