Challah has been one of the bread that I have always wanted to make. When I've read that Breaking Bread Society has featured "Challah" as the bread for the month of July, I knew that this is the time for me to get my Challah in the oven! I went through my bread baking books, and have about half a dozen different Challah recipes. It is not easy picking out which recipe when I have one too many! Finally, I settled for this easy bread machine recipe from my favourite bread machine baking book "The Artisan Bread Machine" by Judith Fertig.
Challah is an egg-enriched bread, sometimes with honey as one of its main ingredients. Most recipes that I've read calls for 2-3 number of eggs, but this recipe uses only 1 egg for 1 medium loaf. This recipe has the option of baking the bread in the full cycle of the bread machine or another option of mixing the dough in the bread machine, shapped into a braid or make into a round by hand and finished off the baking in the oven. Of course, as usual, I let the bread machine do all the mixing and kneading, take out the dough, braid it and bake it in the oven.
I use the Basic Dough setting in my bread machine, which takes 1 hour 35 minutes, right up to the first rise and "punched down" by the machine. I added in about 1/3 cup of bread flour at the first 10 minutes of kneading time, as I find that the dough is really wet.
At the end of the cycle, the dough is placed on a lightly floured working surface, divide into three and roll each piece into a 16" rope. The dough was a little sticky, I sprinkled with a light dusting of flour and it was easier to work with. Line the baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. I then placed the three ropes on the parchment paper, next to each other, close but not touching. Most books including this, states that to braid the dough first, then transfer them to the baking sheet. From my experience, I find that it is easier to braid them directly on the lined baking sheet, as I always have problem transferring the braided loaf to the baking sheet, especially when the braided dough is quite huge. Back to my braids, I braided the ropes starting from the center, I find that by braiding them this way, the braid will be neater than when I start from one end to the other end. Second pic above, tuck one end under to seal.
Repeat with the other side, from the center. That is a lovely braid! Cover with a clean kitchen towel and left to rise for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. I find that mine was rising rather quick. About 45 minutes into the rising time, I switched on the oven.
After about 1 hour and 10 minutes, it is ready to be placed in the oven. The braided dough rises really well, not so pretty braid anymore! Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds all over. Bake in the oven for 34-36 minutes, mine was done at 32 minutes.
Rich and golden crust.
Nice Challah! The sweetness of the honey is really nice, without being overly sweet. I did reduced the salt slightly, and even then, I can taste the light saltiness, which works out well with the hint of sweetness from the honey. This bread has a soft crumb and soft interior, but I can tell that this is definitely not as egg-enriched as other Challah recipes, as it contains only 1 egg. I will be trying out other recipes from my other books.
This loaf of Challah is tasty enough to be eaten on its own or with a spread of butter and jam, and a cup of coffee.
I'm linking this Braided Challah to :
Breaking Bread Society, hosted by Cake Duchess
Bake Your Own Bread (BYOB) hosted by Girlichef
Recipe Box hosted by Bizzy Bakes
Cookbook Sundays hosted by Couscous & Consciousness
(The Artisan Bread Machine by Judith Fertig)
Makes 1 loaf of 750gm (1-1/2 pound)
1 tsp salt (I use slightly less than 1 tsp)
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup lukewarm water (between 86F and 95F)
1/3 cup liquid honey
1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3/4 cups bread flour (I added about 1/3 cup more)
1-1/4 tsp instant or bread machine yeast
1 large egg, beaten
sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)
- Add salt, egg, water, honey and oil to the bread pan. Spoon flour on top of liquid. Add yeast.
- Select the Dough cycle and press Start.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. When the cycle is finished, transfer dough to a floured surface and punch down gently.
- Divide dough into thirds. Roll each third into a 16-inch (40cm) long rope. Braid ropes together, tucking ends under. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F (180C). Brush braid with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired, pressing the seeds into the dough. Bake until risen and golden pan an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190F (90C). Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.