Thursday, 3 May 2012

I have been requested several times for a Challah recipe, for this evening, I am writing out one of my favorites.
This recipe makes two loaves.
1. 6 1/2 cups flour ( I shift my)
2.3 TB sugar
3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
4. 4 package dry active yeast
5. 2 cup butter or margarine, softened
6. A pinch powdered saffron
7. 1 cup warm water (120-130'F) warm, not hot.
8. 1/2 honey
9. 4 eggs at room temperature
10. 1tsp cold water
I have a special spice mixture that gives will remind you of the temple: a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, cinnamon, of almond oil and blood orange oil. It is is added with the honey.
Take care that the waater for the yeast is warm, not hot. If the water is too hot, it will "cook" the yeast and the challah will not rise fully and made your challah denes.
After you wash your hands (this is a holy work) you want to combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter and honey. Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves.
Add a little at a time to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer and medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally. (I prefer mixing by hand)
* at this time, if you wish, you can add chocolate chips, raisins, dry fruits bites like cranberries, apples, etc*
 Separate the yolk and white of one egg.
 Blend the single egg white and the other 3 whole eggs into the batter. Reserve the single egg yolk. Stir 1/2 cup of flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board about 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free, darken place for one hour. Your dough will double in size.
After one hour, you want to knead your dough again. I usually rub a couple drops of olive oil on the dough to help keep it moist. Flour bread broad lightly and set the dough on it.
 Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 2 pieces, using 1/3 of the dough for one piece, and 2/3 of the dough for the other. Divide the large piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes together tightly, using your fingers to press the dough together at the ends. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 10 inch ropes and braid tightly. Place the smaller braid on top of the larger one and seal the ends. Repeat this process to form the second loaf.
Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet. Mix the reserved single egg yolk with the 1 tsp of cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or raisins and let the loaves rise until double in bulk in a warm draft free place (approximately one hour). Bake in a 400' over for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.
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