Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eat Bread... Bake Bread

Eat Bread seems like a fairly simple task. I'm going to guess that most of us eat some challah at every Shabbat meal we staff. I thought it might be nice, although potentially time consuming, to go a bit further than just Eating bread.  I don't know about you...but for me, it's difficult finding the time and motivation to use my kitchen for anything more elaborate than frozen waffles for breakfast or a glass of wine at the end of the day. So for this week's task, let's bake our own challah, to enjoy on our own a shabbat meal with friends, as french toast for brunch, with cream cheese as a snack, as a grilled cheese sandwich (with tomato soup?) on a fall afternoon...or however else you like your challah. Growing up, my mom, sister and I would make challah together each week. We have this great recipe, handed down to my mom from her grandmother.  I'm sharing it with you - and I have to say - it makes a pretty delicious challah! If baking isn't your thing - I encourage you to give it a try anyway. Or you can go to the store and pick up some frozen dough or frozen challah. Either way, let's not only bake our bread, but eat it, too!

Happy Baking,

Grandma Rose’s Challah
2 c warm water
2 packages (4 ½ t) dry fast-acting yeast
½ c sugar
2 eggs
½ c canola or vegetable oil (plus more for proofing)
½ t salt
8 c flour
½ c golden raisins (optional)

Honey Glaze:
1 egg
2 T honey
Notes: All-purpose flour is fine, or you can use a ½
and ½ mix of all-purpose and bread flours or
bread flour and whole wheat white flour. This can
also be used to make challah rolls or other shapes.

Add yeast to warm water, stirring gently to combine. Allow yeast to dissolve for a minute or two. Add sugar and stir gently, allowing yeast to bloom for another minute or so. Add salt, eggs, and oil and stir to combine. Add flour gradually, mixing with wooden spoon or dough hooks on electric stand mixer.When flour is combined and dough is barely sticky, remove from mixing bowl and knead just a few times, adding raisins if desired.Shape dough into large ball. Pour a few tablespoons of oil into large glass bowl.Place dough in oiled bowl and roll around just to coat with oil. Cover bowl with damp towel and/or plastic wrap (just covered, not sealed) and proof in warm oven (on lowest setting) for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Remove dough from bowl to floured surface. Separate into four parts, then separate each of part into three segments. Roll each segment gently to elongate. Pinch three segments together at top and braid, pinching together and tucking under the end. Place braided loaves on baking sheets (2 per sheet). Allow loaves to stand approximately 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. After loaves are done rising, combine glaze ingredients in small bowl and paint over all parts of loaves using pastry or basting brush. Bake each set of loaves for 20 minutes.

(This recipe makes 4 loaves - after they cool, you can freeze them,
wrapped in waxed paper/tin foil and placed in a ziploc bag - they last
a long time! To use after freezing, defrost them for about 10 minutes,
take off the tin foil and stick in the microwave for a minute)

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