Challah

Challah is a Jewish braided bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays. It is also named khale, berches, Zopf barkis, bergis, birkata in Judeo-Amharic, vianočka in Slovak language, tsoureki in Greek, kalács, chałka, colaci, and kitke. - Wikipedia

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The following is a recipe from when I attended culinary school. In all honesty, I can't remember if this was an instructor's formula or was the Le Cordon Bleu standard. Oh, it was so long ago...

I wrote the directions since all the recipes from school do not have written instructions. You learn in school that there are specific mixing methods that go with recipes that have certain ingredients. Once you absorb all the methods and understand the whys you can pretty much look at a recipe and know what to do.

Ingredients

  • ½ oz instant dry yeast

  • 4 oz granulated sugar

  • ¾ tsp sea salt

  • 16 fl oz warm water

  • 8 oz egg yolks

  • 4 oz vegetable oil

  • 2# 10 oz bread flour

Directions in making the dough

  1. In a 6 qt bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve and proof the yeast with the sugar, salt, and warm water. Let stand for 3 minutes until foam appears. This indicates the yeast is active.

  2. Add the egg yolks and vegetable oil to the yeast mixture. Whisk until combined.

  3. Add the flour and using the dough hook attachment mix on low speed for 4 minutes and on medium speed for another 4 minutes. The dough should be slightly firm and smooth, not sticky. Turn the dough onto the work surface and knead for a minute or so by hand. Knead by folding the dough over itself and pushing out with the heel of your hands, not down. Rotate the dough and repeat. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil. Cover with plastic film or a damp towel.

  4. Bulk ferment the dough until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.

  5. Fold gently and turn it out onto the counter. This naturally deflates the gas, so there is no need to aggressively punch it down.

This recipe makes two large loaves. And from here on out, it really depends on the number of braids you choose and what shape you want your end product to look.

Use an egg wash made of 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water to brush on the tops of your challah to get that golden to dark brown crust. Then let the loaves rest and rise for about 30 minutes before baking.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The best way to know that your bread is done is to really take the internal temperature. Challah is considered a rich bread because it contains eggs. So the internal temperature should be around 200 degrees F.

Variation

The braids can be filled... with Nutella...

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... or like so, with a coconut filling - making this a Challah de Coco (a play on Pan de Coco, if you're familiar with Filipino style breads).

Nutella Challah... need I say more?

I definitely overfilled this Challah de Coco.

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I think I'll make French toast using this bread tomorrow.

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