So, we’ve been following a loose Paleo diet since January (with occasional cheating here and there)…loads of veg, fruit and meat. And not much else. We feel really great! Those cavemen were smart cookies. (Not that they ate many cookies or anything.) But a few days ago, Drew sort of had a freak out. He opened the fridge, looked at the broccoli and oranges and eggs, and said, in a rather loud voice, “Where are all the Glutens around here? I love gluten. Gluten loves me. I MISS the Glutens! I WANT GLUTEN!” And so, I quietly pulled out the yeast, flour and mixer and went to work to make him a giant loaf of glutenous, delicious bread. And so, for all the gluten-lovers, here are some simple step-by-step instructions of how to make challah bread.
Challah is a traditional Jewish bread, used for special holidays and Shabbat. It’s eggy and slightly sweet, and is yummy right out of the oven or for French toast or sandwiches. This is our interpretation of the classic…
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. If the yeast “grows” and forms foamy bubbles within about five minutes, you’ve succeeded. High five!
- Add the rest of the ingredients and knead until it’s smooth and elastic. This can be done with the dough hook on a stand mixer, OR do it yourself for an excellent “arm day” workout.
- After letting it rest and rise for about an hour, you get to do the fun part…BRAIDS! Traditionally, Challah is braided using four to six strands, sometimes into very complicated patterns. For newbies, this is a textbook braid…just like your hair! Divide the dough into three parts, roll each out with your hands (like you did with play dough when you were six) and braid away!
- Let it rest and rise AGAIN! And maybe you should rest, too. That kneading and braiding is a lot of work 😉
- Brush with egg whites and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if you like that kind of thing. Bake for about 30 minutes while you stand in front of the oven, inhaling that amazing aroma!
- Get the butter, honey and jam ready. And your camera. This is about the prettiest bread you’ll ever bake! Well done.
- 2 Tbsp. yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 eggs plus one egg white (for egg wash)
- 4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- Poppy seeds (optional)
- Combine yeast, warm water and 2 Tbsp. sugar in bowl of standing mixer. Let rest until yeast is dissolved and foamy, about five minutes.
- Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 4 cups flour, salt and butter. Mix on medium speed with dough hook until combined; turn speed to low and knead 5-6 minutes. Add flour by 1/4 cupfuls as needed if dough is sticky. Don't add too much flour! As the dough kneads, it will become less sticky. You want a smooth and springy (and just slightly sticky) dough.
- Form dough into a ball in the bowl, and cover bowl with damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
- Put in warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Once it has risen, punch down dough and divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll pieces with hands into 3 equal pieces, about the length of a cookie sheet.
- Braid the pieces together, just like braiding hair! Tuck both ends under loaf to seal.
- Place braided loaf on parchment-lined or greased cookie sheet. Cover gently with kitchen towel and allow to rise about 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add a little water to egg white and brush top of loaf. Sprinkle poppy seeds on loaf, if desired.
- Bake on lower middle rack for about 30 minutes, until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If browning too quickly, cover top with foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.
- Let rest for five minutes before slicing.
PLEASE NOTE Active prep time is about 15 minutes. The rest of prep time is for rising.