Tuesday, December 7, 2010

happy hanukkah: sweet challah

And... we're back. Back on solid foods, that is. It was a rough go there at the end but I prevailed and the crazy thing? I miss the juices. Weird right? And not what you'd expect from a foodie like me. But my skin is glowing, my tummy is flat(ter), and I've been sleeping like a baby. Mission accomplished!

Now on to the good stuff. In celebration of Hanukkah and my Jewish friends, I'm sharing a delicious yeast bread that I love to eat year-round. Yes! Another yeast bread! Wuahahahaha. With this braided beauty, I think I've conquered my yeast fear :)

Challah bread's soft, eggy texture makes it perfect for morning french toast - or as a vehicle for something delicious like pumpkin butter, which is what I used it for!

This recipe yielded one big loaf - next time I'd either split it into two or create a 6-strand loaf - and it was easy to follow and absolutely gorgeous. Plus, with a perfect bread after just a few hours I think I'll be making this again soon. Maybe next time with raisins? And cinnamon??

Viva yeast bread! And Happy Hanukkah :)

Sweet Challah Bread
adapted from Cooking Light

1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water (100-110 F)
3 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour, divided
cooking spray
1 tsp. cornmeal
1 tsp. water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. poppy seeds

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 tsp. salt and egg; stir well with a whisk.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 F), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough).

Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine 1 tsp. water and egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf and gently brush with egg mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 tsp. poppy seeds. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on wire rack.


Joanne said...

I'm glad to hear you're back on solid ground! Get it. Solid. Man I am so cheesy.

I love lvoe love challah, especially homemade! I put cinnamon and cranberries in it last year. Hellagood.

Anonymous said...

The challah looks perfectly beautiful and scrumptiously delicious! You are an amazing baker!

Beth said...

Joanne - Cinnamon and cranberries sounds amazing! Might have to give that a shot for Christmas breakfast challah ;)

Anna - Thank you! I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog!

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