fluffy, eggy, steamy

fluffy, eggy, steamy

My mom gave me a Jewish cookbook a year ago called The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden.  Great, I thought, now I officially have the tools to become a good Jewish housewife–noodle kugel and brisket recipes.  The other day I brought out the cookbook because Passover was coming up and I felt like cooking something Jewish-y.  Challah.  I know, I know, totally not Passover friendly, what with the leavened bread and all, but challah is so pretty and tasty.

Since I don’t have a stand mixer or even a hand mixer in the fraternity kitchen, I made bread the old fashioned way, by hand.  I followed the recipe and the bread came out beautifully.  I ended up adding a lot of flour in the kneading process because the dough was sticky.  Just make sure to tap the bottom of the baked loaves to test for the hollow sound which signals doneness.  

Emre and his roommate David scarfed two loaves within minutes after the challah came out of the oven–success.  

Challah recipe from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden:

Hallah

The Braided Sabbath Bread

Makes 4 loaves

It is made with eggs and comes out so beautiful that you do not resent the labor.

2 tablespoons dry yeast

2 1/4 cups (500 ml) lukewarm water

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

4 eggs, beaten, plus 2 yolks or 1 whole egg for glazing

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 (125 ml) vegetable oil

About 9 1/4 cups (1 1/3 kg) flour

Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the water with 1 teaspoon of the sugar.  Beat well and leave 10 minutes, until it froths.

In a very large bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Then add the salt, sugar, and oil and beat again.  Add the frothy yeast mixture and beat well.  Now add the flour gradually, and just enough to make a soft dough that holds together, mixing well, first with a large spoon, then working it in with you hands.  Knead vigorously for about 15 minutes, until it is very smooth and elastic, adding flour if the dough is too sticky.  Pour a little oil in the bowl and turn the dough, so that it is greased all over.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise for 2-3 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk.  Punch the dough down and knead again, then divide into four pieces to make four loaves.

To make braided hallah with 3 strands:  Divide 1 piece of the dough into 3.  Roll each piece between your palms and pull inot long thin ropes about 18 inces (46 cm) long and 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) wide.  Pinch 1 end of all the strands together and plait [braid] them…Continue with the remaining 3 pieces [of dough].

Place the 4 loaves on well-oiled baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for them to expand, then leave to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.  Now brush gently with the beaten egg yolks, or, if you want to sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, brush first with the whole beaten egg (the seeds stick better if the white is there too.)  Bake in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the loaves are beautifully golden brown.  They are done if they sound hollow when you tap the bottoms.

Variations for sweet hallahs

  • Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) honey to the beaten eggs.
  • Add 3/4 cup (100 g) raisins and knead them into the dough after it has risen and been punched down.
shiny golden brown carbs...yummy

shiny golden brown carbs...yummy

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