As a first time challah baker, but long time challah lover, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to pull off . . .
. . . the light, eggy, slightly sweet goodness. . .
. . ..or the intricate braiding. . .
. . . but then I found a recipe that was so quick and easy that. . .
. . . that I just had to give it a try.
Whether you're celebrating Hanukkah next week or just need to get your challah french toast fix, this recipe is definitely worth an hour and a half of your time.
Adapted slightly from Joan Nathan's Speed Challah
Makes 4 large loaves
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
- 7-8 cups flour,plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 large egg yolks (or more if you'd like to do a double egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Put the yeast in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the warm water. When the yeast is dissolved, whisk in the eggs and then stir in the oil.
In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and salt with 7 cups of the flour and then add this to the wet ingredients. Kneed the dough with a dough hook and the mixer on low for 6-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Form a round loaf on a floured board and poke a 1" diameter hole in the center. Leave the dough, uncovered to rise for 10-15 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces with a sharp knife. Roll out 2 of the pieces into ropes that are about 20" long. Make sure not to use too much flour as it will make it hard to form rope without seams in the dough. Flatten the cylinder and roll each rope out to roughly 24 inches. Take the two ends of one of the ropes and bring them together. Twirl into a loose spiral and set on the parchment lined baking sheet. Do the same with the other rope.
With your other pieces, try your hand at different braiding techniques. For my first try I did the simple twists, and then I made mini twists and a spiraled braid. For the spiral, I just made a simple three stranded braid and curled it around on itself, tucking the ends into each other so that the braid looked like it was continuous.
If you're making this with your kids, invite them to try out different designs and techniques with lots of mini challah loaves ( a great way to learn about chemistry and braiding!).
Mix the egg yolks with the water. Double the amount of egg yolks and water if you'd like to double glaze.
For a single egg wash, let your loaves sit and rise for 20-30 minutes. Brush them liberally with the egg wash and bake for 10 minutes at 375 and then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 30 additional minutes or until the bread sound hollow when tapped.
For a double egg wash, let the loaves rise for 10-20 minutes and then brush them with the egg wash. Ten minutes later, brush them again just before you bake following the instructions above.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing, or just tear into it right away.
*Last time in Recipes: Cranberry, Apple, Pear Tart