Challah is the delicious, slightly sweet, braided egg bread that is a staple on Jewish tables for Sabbath and other holidays. Challah has become a treasured part of holiday and every day family meals for families from all over the world and in every ethnicity.
The braiding technique can be as simple as a 3-strand braid or the more intricate 4, 5 or 6-strand braids. Some families make a smaller 3-strand braid and place it atop the larger 3-strand braised loaf making a lovely picture of tastiness.
Every Sabbath, 2 Challot (plural of Challah) grace our table and this recipe makes 4 loaves. You can give 2 away, freeze them until needed, but be sure to save some out for French Toast!
I’ve updated my Bubbe’s recipe, using freshly-ground whole grains and my favorite is Kamut, an ancient non-hybridized wheat. You can use whole wheat instead of Kamut if you prefer.
Yield: 4 loaves
Place the following in a mixer or mixing bowl:
3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
3 cups Kamut flour, freshly-ground
1 Tablespoon SAF instant yeast
1 teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar (optional)
Stir well. Cover and let sit (sponge) for 30 minutes. The sponge should be risen and bubbly. Stir batter releasing the air.
4 large eggs, beaten with
2 egg whites (save the yolks for egg wash)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup raw honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vital gluten (optional)
Stir until dough pulls together and away from the sides of the bowl.
Additional freshly-ground Kamut, enough to make a study but moist dough, approximately 4-5 cups. Only add enough flour to have the dough form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Mix well until dough holds together.
If using a stand mixer, knead on medium-low for 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and springy, but not sticky. If kneading by hand, this will take 10-12 minutes on an oiled surface.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
Stir down dough and divide into 4 equal portions. Divide each portion into strips for braiding. Braid each loaf and place on a greased baking sheet pan or greased loaf pan to rise. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for 30-45 minutes or until loaves are risen about double.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees while the bread is rising. Mix the 2 egg yolks with 2 Tablespoons water. Gentle brush egg wash on to the risen loaves.
When oven and bread are ready, bake for 30-35 minutes or until bread is browned. Remove bread from oven, remove the bread from the pans and place the loaves onto a wire rack cooling sheet. Cover with a clean dishcloth and let the loaves cool completely.
B’Teavon! (Bon Appetit!)