Thursday, November 16, 2006

Loaf #7, Challah 1.0

First of all, I'd like to apologize for there only being half a loaf. The first memory card I used to take pictures was corrupted, but I'd sampled the loaf repeatedly before finding this out. So here we have half a loaf of challah, a traditional Jewish bread with all sorts of variations possible. I used a cookbook that I found at Half Price Books, which has many recipes and a whole lot of reading about various traditions behind the bread. I highly recommend this book if you want to make challah, or just like to read about family histories as they pertain to loaves and traditions.

For this loaf I used one of the more basic recipes, simplified it a bit and did my own methodology for blending because they wanted to include a few more steps than I did. So here's the recipe.

Challah Bread
1 1/2 pounds (24 oz) bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
9 oz cold water

First mix the flour, sugar, salt and yest in the bowl. Add in the wet ingredients, but hold back a few tablespoons of the egg for the glaze. Mix on low for a few minutes to get the ingredients together. Cover and let it hydrate for 15-20 minutes, then knead on low-med speed for about 8 minutes. Put in an oiled bowl, place in oven with a pan of hot water, let proof for 2 hours. The hot water gives the yeast a warm, moist enviornment to do it's work. Don't turn on the oven light, I think the heat from the bulb can cause the dough to crust while just the hot water prevents it from crusting (this is based on one experience, I haven't done an in depth study to prove it's true). After the first proof, dump dough onto floured surface and press down with your knuckles. Fold the dough over on itself and repeat another time or two so the dough stiffens a bit. Shape the dough (I did a simple braid), place on a pan or in a greased dish and put back in the oven. Dump the water and replace with fresh hot water. Let proof for about an hour. Glaze with remaining egg. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, bake the loaf for 35 minutes. If you are baking smaller loaves or rolls, decrease time to about 20 minutes. Let cool.

One thing I did different with this loaf was to use a silicone mat instead of baking parchment. It worked well. They range from $10-20, and are reusable. Parchment is still good to have around, because those mats won't go over a French loaf pan as smoothly. Mine were purchased at Wal-Mart for about $10 for a half sheet and quarter sheet set.

One thing I will mention, is that although I adore the No Knead Bread method, I'd never try it with challah bread since it contains eggs. I don't know if it would go bad sitting out for 24 hours, and I'm not about to try.

1 comment:

chanit said...

I have to try this challah, thanks for the recipe ! ;)