Friday Night Challah

Friday Night Challah

I can’t believe that I am sitting at my computer at 5:30 in the morning writing this.  Today is a very busy day so this will be brief. 

Challah is traditionally served in Jewish households as part of Friday night diner.  This is an egg based bread that uses oil in place of butter or milk.  The use of oil makes the bread Parve, which means it may be eaten with either a meat or milk meal.  There isn’t time or space here to go into a detailed discussion of all the laws of Kashrut, so you’ll just have to take my word for it or you can spend the day on google.

Two day old Challah makes a fantastic base for French Toast on Sunday morning.

Preview of tomorrow:  A book review of Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Shakes & Fries and a recipe from the book.

Printable Recipe

Friday Night Challah Recipe
Adapted from Secrets of a Jewish Baker
1 cup warm water
2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds for topping – optional
1.  In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water to soften.
2.  Add the egg, yolks, oil, 4 cups flour and salt.  Stir until dough comes together.
3.  Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding additional flour if needed, until dough is firm.
4.  Transfer to an oiled bowl and let rise, covered, until tripled in volume (about 30 to 40 minutes)
5.  Punch down dough, cut in half, cover and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
6.  Punch down again and then cut each large piece of dough into 6 equal sized pieces.
7.  Roll each of the 6 small pieces of dough into a rope and braid.  (I have never seen a good written description of how to braid a challah so I suggest you go to YouTube where you can find many good videos showing various fancy and traditional braids.)
8.  Transfer braided challahs to a cornmeal dusted baking sheet and place in a warm place (I use a turned off oven) till the loafs double in size (about 30 minutes).
9.  Brush the loafs with the eggs wash and sprinkle seeds on top.
10.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until the loaves have a hollow sound when tapped, (about 25 to 35 minutes).  If the top is browning too quickly then cover with a loose fitting sheet of aluminum foil.
11.  Let cool on wire racks.  Will keep for several days if wrapped in a plastic bag.
Optional method:  The easier method is to dump all the ingredients into a bread machine and run on the dough cycle.  When the dough is finished (about 1 hour) you can pick up at step 6.  This is the method that I use every Friday and I can’t tell any difference.  The bonus is that I have invested only about 15 minutes of active hands on time but the challah has the same taste and texture as one that was hand kneaded.