Friday, August 8, 2014

Challah Challenge: Month 1

I decided to start out a bit easy with my Challah challenge- using a recipe I already have at home, as well as one that's incredibly simple.

Except when I actually started working on it this morning, turns out it's a little more complicated than I thought:

Jewish Recipe Book (Greatest-Ever)

This is the book I used to get the recipe. It's a great book, was a Chanukah gift a few years ago.  I don't use it very often, as it's really a book full of Jewish ethnic recipes, less so Jewish holiday recipes, but it's a great book to have in the kitchen.

The usual Challah ingredients. A few eggs, sugar, yeast, oil, and flour.  This one also called for salt (not pictured) and some water (not pictured).

The first step in almost every challah recipe, proofing the dough.  Making sure it bubbles up and shows that the yeast is alive.  This is a step I never really understood when I was younger.  Why is it called proofing?  How is yeast 'alive?' but it's an important step never the less.

Here is my ball of dough, ready to rise.  And here's where I ran into problems.

The recipe, which I'll transcribe below, asks you to put the dough in the fridge overnight to let it rise.  Guess I should have made the dough on Thursday.  But I didn't.  Today is Shabbat, and if we want to have this challah, I'll have to forgo the overnight rising, and just bake it after it rises a bit.  So, below you'll find the original recipe, with my adaptations noted in italics.  I'll report back on Sunday to tell you how they are.

Adapted from the Greatest Ever Jewish Recipe Book
Marlena Spieler

Makes 2 Loaves:

1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
4.5 cups flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 egg for glazing
pinch of sugar

1. Mix together yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup lukewarm water.  Sprinkle with flour, cover and let proof for 10-12 minutes

2. Beat in 1tsp salt, oil, and eggs into mixture.  Add in additional 1/2 cup water.  Add flour slowly at first, then more quickly.  Knead for 5-10minutes until mixture forms a dough that leaves the side of the bowl.  If it's sticky, add more flour.  Place in an oiled bowl and let rise for 1.5-2 hours

3. Turn dough onto floured surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Knead then roll out into braids.  Form 3 long pieces, then braid together to form Challah.

4.  Cover and leave to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

5. Pre-heat oven to 375degree.  Combine remaining egg, pinch of sugar, pinch of salt and brush over the loaves.  Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until well browned.  Cool on wire rack.

In hindsight, I think that it's best to use the same method to compare all the recipes.  I like to make my challah on Fridays, so I think I'm going to do this as my traditional method- 2 hours regular rising, then 1 hour rising formed as a challah.  That way all the yeast has the same amount of time to make good dough.

What do you think?  I'll report back on how it tasted/turned out on Sunday.  Also, I'm going to try to find an answer for why we braid challah.  Any thoughts on that?

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