I love challah! Being that we are a Jatholic family (Jewish-Catholic), we eat challah every Friday. We have an excellent bakery here in Northampton (Hungry Ghost Bread) that we usually get our challah from, but I was feeling ambitious over the summer and decided that I wanted to learn how to make my own.
It is surprisingly really easy! My son and I made it together and it was a fun project. The recipe came from a book we got at the library called Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook by Jane Yolen. She lists the ingredients in the order/amounts in which they are used. Enjoy!
1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Put the water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar in the bowl of a food processor or a large bowl, and set the timer for 10 minutes. (We used a bowl and mixed everything by hand.)
2. While you wait, combine the honey, oil, 1 tbsp sugar, and salt in a small bowl, then add the egg.
3. When the timer dings, add the honey mixture to the yeast mixture.
4. Mix using the food processor (or a spoon) until blended together.
5. Pour flour into the wet mixture a little at a time, mixing in each batch before adding more. When a ball forms, add a little more flour, and mix, remembering that you don’t have to use all the flour and you can always add more.
6. Sprinkle flour on a clean counter top or a board, and remove the dough from the processor, or bowl. Knead the dough by hand on the floured surface for about ten minutes.
7. Pour a teaspoon of vegetable or any light cooking oil into the large bowl, and put the ball of dough into it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a wet (but not dripping) towel, and place the bowl aside to rise. Set the timer for 90 minutes.
8. When the dough has risen for 90 minutes, take a small handful of flour and sprinkle it on the counter or board. Uncover the dough and punch it down with your fist a couple of times. Then put it on the floured surface, and pull or roll it into a fat rope.
9. Cut the dough rope into 3 equal pieces then roll and pull those pieces into thinner ropes.
10. Braid the dough (we watched a video on braiding techniques).
11. Grease the baking sheet with cooking spray and set the challah loaf on it. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, set the timer, and let it rise again for 60 minutes.
12. Heat oven to 350.
13. After 60 minutes, in a small bowl, mix a beaten egg with a little water, brush onto the top of the challah, then put the loaf in the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes (we sprinkled sesame seeds on top).
14. When the challah is done, it should be golden brown and make a hollow sound when the bottom is tapped.