Sep 13, 2015

Recipe: Challah

I love learning about different cultures and food can be a huge part of culture! It's also interesting to see how cultures intersect.

I'm not Jewish, but it's a culture with a rich food history and rich traditions overall. I am German, and I always think it's really interesting when I see overlaps between German words and Yiddish words, traditional German foods and traditional Jewish foods, and so on.

One such overlap is Challah - or Zopf in German cuisine! Since tonight is the start of Rosh Hashanah, what better time to share a great Challah (or Zopf, if you're German) recipe?

This bread is soft and flaky and light, ever so slightly sweet, works great with or without poppy seeds on top, and looks great! It's an absolute winner fresh, but even the leftovers (if there are any) won't go to waste. It makes great french toast!

Makes 1 large loaf

* 0.5 c. warm water
* 0.5 c. warm milk
* 3 Tbsp. white sugar
* 1.5 (0.25oz) packages active dry yeast

* 2 eggs
* 2 egg yolks
* 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
* 0.25 c. margarine, melted

* 4-5 c. all-purpose flour
* 2 tsp. salt

* 1 egg, beaten.
Optional: 1.5 tsp. poppy seeds or sesame seeds

1) Mix the water, milk, sugar, and yeast together in a large bowl. Let sit for ~5 minutes, until very foamy.

2) Beat in the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, and melted margarine with a heavy wooden spoon.

3) Add the salt and flour, mixing in the flour a cup at a time. This will be a sticky dough (so don't worry if you're a seasoned bread baker and it's tackier than you're used to) but it should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be firm enough to knead. Knead/mix for 8 minutes.

4) Place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for ~1 hr in a warm place, until doubled in size.

5) Punch down the dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and divide into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 'rope' then braid the three ropes together to form a large loaf. Stretch the loaf out a bit, then place it on a greased baking sheet.

6) Cover the loaf with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, ~40 minutes.

7) Preheat oven to 350F (175C).

8) Brush the loaf with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the optional poppy seeds or sesame seeds, if desired.

9) Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, watching the loaf carefully towards the end, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. The loaf should only be lightly golden on top, don't over-bake!

10) Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

This bread is amazing. 

Everyone loved and, as enormous as the loaf was, it was almost all gone within just a few hours! Everyone who passed through the kitchen had to have some and it got a huge grin from the 10 year old taste taster and thumbs up all around, as well as recipe requests from the adult taste testers. 

One said that it has the consistency of a croissant, but without the greasiness. Perfect for everyday enjoyment!

Love Challah? Tweet it!

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