This is one of my all time favourite breads in the world. So what is it? Challah is a traditional Jewish braided loaf that is used in several holidays. It is a yeast-risen egg bread that is usually braided using three to six braids.
We grew up with Challah. Not because we are Jewish, but because we lived in an area of Toronto that was largely influenced by Jewish culture. Some of the best bread in the world was made at our local grocery store and among them, Challah.
So when I started baking in high school, it was one of the first breads, other than my grandmother’s, I ever made.
I was planning on another croissant recipe today but since I didn’t have non-fat milk powder on hand, I decided I’d make this one. The recipe was also in the same bread book, so it didn’t take much convincing.
Don’t you just love the small of bread rising? I mean if I could smell through my swollen sinuses, it would be divine in here :)
Rowan helped in today’s adventure. She mixed the yeast and honey as well as helped out with kneading the dough. Such a good helper!
Now the trick to this bread is the use of Saffron. Now, not everyone will have it on hand as it’s really expensive for such a little amount but it makes the difference between a good Challah and an excellent Challah. Trust me, I’ve made it both ways. Also use the best honey you can for the sweetness. I only had Billy-Bee brand, which is not bad but would usually make it with a higher quality brand. Use honey you would eat straight up. If you don’t like the taste of honey, the bread will have that undertone. Now since I like all honey (its always in my tea), the flavour won’t hinder the bread, I just recommend when baking anything, you use the best ingredients for the best taste!
- 1/4 tsp saffron crumbled
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 pkg dry yeast (2.5 tsp loose)
- 4 3/4 cup unbleached flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 eggs beaten
- 6 tbsp melted butter cooled
- Pour boiling water over saffron and let sit until luke warm.
- Add honey and stir until dissolved.
- Pour honey and saffron mixture into bowl with yeast. Make sure you sieve out the saffron strands (trust me, they are bitter when you bake them and no one wants that!) Let stand for 5-10 minutes or until foamy
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook (trust me this makes a world of difference on your arms but can be done by hand) add flour and salt.
- Pour in eggs and butter and mix until completely combined. About 5 minutes. If too sticky add 1 tsp flour or if too dry add 1 tsp warm water.
- Put out on counter and knead for 10 minutes. Use your arms girls!!! Press down, push out and pull back, rotate, repeat! The dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Let rise in warm place until doubled. About 1 to 2 hours. It’s coolish out here so closer to 2 hours.
- Punch down and knead again. Let rise again.
- Divide dough into the number of braids you like to use. Since I only know how to braid using 3 strands, that’s what I’m doing.
- Braid and let rise again.
- Brush with egg wash and bake at 400. Re-brush with egg wash at 10 minutes and then continue to bake until the most beautiful golden brown (about 40mins) and when flipped over and tapped, it makes a hollow sound (trick from my grandma)
- Enjoy. Bet you can’t eat just one slice!
Thanks for looking!