Homemade Bread Recipe – Challah (by Sarah Sutherland)
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I was shocked by how high it rose on its second rising! I doubled the original rising time (1 hr.) and I think that definitely made the bread less dense. There are many add-ins for challah, such as raisins and chocolate chips. We chose to tear the bread into pieces instead of cutting it, and it went nicely with a warm bowl of soup.
2 pkgs. dry active yeast – 1 c. warm water (about 100 deg. F) – 1/2 c. white sugar – 1/2 c. butter at room temperature – 2 tsp. salt – 3 eggs – 2 c. whole wheat flour – 2 c. all-purpose flour – 1/2 c. rolled oats – 1 egg, beaten
- Mix the yeast and water together in a large bowl, and let stand until a creamy layer forms on top, about 5 minutes. Beat in 3 eggs, sugar, butter, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and rolled oats. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough over several times in the bowl to oil the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough, and cut into 3 equal-size pieces. Working on a floured surface, roll the dough pieces into ropes. Ropes should be fatter in the middle and thinner at the ends. Pinch 3 ropes together at the top and braid them. Starting with the strand to the right, move it to the left over the middle strand (that strand becomes the new middle strand.) Take the strand farthest to the left, and move it over the new middle strand. Continue braiding, alternating sides each time, until the loaf is braided, and pinch the ends together and fold them underneath for a neat look. Place the braided challah on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the loaf with a dry cloth, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
5. Brush the loaf with 1 beaten egg, and bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool before slicing.
Challah is the name for the bread eaten by the Jewish people on the Shabbat – the Sabbath – and other holidays. In ancient times, the “challah” was the piece of bread torn off and given to the priest. Modern Jewish women bless the bread, then break off a piece the size of an olive. They burn it in remembrance of this ritual. The braided loaf represents the unity of Israel. Sometimes the loaves are made into circles for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.