Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The best bread in Israel.
Or anywhere else for that matter. When We were dating, my husband made this bread, which was yards better than any Challah I'd ever made or tasted, but he refused to give me the recipe until we were married. Now I make the bread, and I can give the recipe out, and you don't even have to marry me to get it. The best part about this Challah is that it is moist and dense rather than bland and fluffy like many Challah recipes. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. If you'd rather I made it, stop by my house any Friday night.
Challah (mix it up on Thursday night!)
4 1/2 C warmish hot water
1 1/2 c sugar
7 tsp yeast
7 egg yolks
¾ c oil (olive is best, but any kind works)
4 Tb Salt
5 Lb flour
3 Tb sesame or poppy seeds.
In a large bowl mix the water and sugar, then add the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, oil, sugar, and salt and mix thoroughly. Slowly begin adding flour, mixing completely each time. After a while it will be impossible to stir, so turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading in the rest of the flour (it all has to go in for halachic reasons. If you find the dough is too dry, add more water.) Put dough ball into LARGE (really large) oiled bowl or pot, cover with plastic wrap (spray the top of the dough ball with pam or oil to keep it from sticking) and let rise overnight in a warm place, or at least 6 hours. The longer it rises, the better the flavor, punch it down a few times if you need to. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, separate challah with a bracha, and burn the portion. Cut the dough into the desired number of loaves (I make 12 loaves, but they are small. It makes 6 large loaves nicely), then cut the loaf section into 6 pieces and braid. (If you want to learn this, it is explained in the Spice and Spirit cookbook. It takes some practice to be fast at it, but the result is worth the effort.) Place braided loaves onflat pans lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and place in a warm spot for 40-60 minutes, until the loaves have approximately doubled in size (if you are pressed for time, you can put the loaves in to bake right away, but they won’t be as pretty or soft). Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375. Take the last whole egg and beat it with a little water to make an egg wash. Use a brush to coat each loaf with the egg wash, the sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or both. Place pans in the oven for about 35 minutes, until the tops are light brown and when you tap on the top of a loaf it is hollow sounding. If you have to use 2 racks because it is a small
oven, switch the pans from top to bottom to ensure even cooking. The secret to nice challah is to not over-cook it. Trust me. People prefer things slightly underdone, whether they realize it or not.
There's the big secret. It was worth marrying the guy just to get this fantastic recipe! If I get requests for them I'll put up some other Shabbat food. We make killer Matza Ball soup in this house.