Challah (Daring Bakers Challenge May 2012)

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I love using colour within my fashion design, although I often end up wearing shades of grey to black, with a splash of pink or yellow…. I also like to incorporate a rainbow of colours within my meals through using lots of lovely vegetables and pretty vintage plates.

For this months challenge, I experimented with using different coloured strands in the braid, my first attempt resulted in a rather unappetizing play-dough effect using red food dye, somehow red bread just doesn’t work!  Switching back to a more natural approach, I used a mixture of wholemeal flour and white flour to create a multi-coloured loaf. My braiding could be worked on, but I’m proud of my end result despite the lumpy appearance!

Seeded Challah – forgot the egg wash, hence the matt appearance.

Steamed Challah – unfortuntely it stuck to the baking parchement

Multi-coloured challah – red food colouring & cocoa for the red+brown. The red wasn’t too appetizing…

Brown/white challah – finally nailed it! Still looks like a lumpy mess but this loaf was delicious!

Challah

Preparation time: As a general rule, challah takes about 4-6 hours from start to finish. This includes making the dough, at least two risings, baking and cooling. Specific recipes take slightly different amounts of time, and the first rise can be done overnight in the refrigerator if you prefer. Please read through the recipes for specific times. Following are approximates for most.
Mixing and kneading the dough: 20 min.
First rise: 1 ½ to 2 hours
Punching down, second rise: 1 hour (not all recipes have this second rise)
Shaping: 10 to 20 min.
Third rise (second rise for some recipes): 1 hour
Baking: 30 to 45 minutes
Cooling: 20 to 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Stand mixer with dough hook (not necessary, but it certainly helps!)
• Measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Mixing bowls (at least one large and one small)
• Pastry brush
• Rolling pin (again, not necessary, but it makes a difference)
• Baking tray/cookie sheet
• Parchment paper
• Kitchen/tea towel
• Cooling rack
• Offset spatula (really helps get the loaves off of the tray safely!)

Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah

(adapted from D’s Whole Wheat Challah)
Servings: 12

Ingredients
2 (.25 oz.) packages (4½ teaspoons) (22½ ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
½ cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) salt
3 large eggs
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2½ to 5 oz)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze

Directions:

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.
7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Challah (Honey White)

(from Tammy’s Recipes)
Servings: 2 loaves

Ingredients
1 ½ cups (360 ml) warm water, separated
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) (15 gm/½ oz sugar
2 Tbsp. (2-2/3 packets) (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) dry active yeast
½ cup (120 ml) honey
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) oil (light colored vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer)
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. 7½ ml) (9 gm) (1/3 oz) salt
5 cups (1200 ml) (700 gm/25 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

Directions:

1. In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine ½ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. yeast. Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.
2. To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding flour as needed. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.
4. Punch down the dough, divide it into two sections. Use one half to make each loaf (shaped or braided as desired).
5. Place loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
7. Brush tops loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted.)
8. Bake loaves 30-40 minutes until done.
9. Cool on wire racks.

Easy Challah

(from templedavid.org)

Ingredients
4 cups (960 ml) (360 gm/20 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) (11¼ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) package rapid rise yeast
½ (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

Directions:

1. Measure flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, beat until well combined. Cover with a dish towel, let stand 30 min.
4. Add two eggs to the dough, beat again.
5. By hand or with your dough hook knead in the remaining flour mixture. Knead approximately 10 minutes.
6. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour.
7. Punch down dough, knead approximately 3 minutes.
8. Divide dough in two. Shape each half as desired (3, 4, or 6 strand braid).
9. Place loaves on parchment covered or greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise one hour.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
11. Brush loaves with egg wash.
12. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, bake until golden crust forms (about 25-30 minutes).
13. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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5 responses to “Challah (Daring Bakers Challenge May 2012)

  1. All of those loaves look great, but that one with the different hues of brown looks AMAZING. Seriously – so rustic and delicious and AWESOME. Really great work!!

  2. What amazing Challah. You improved your technique very much over the course of the challenge and are now a fully qualified Challah baker. You showed great perseverance in overcoming your early difficulties with the braiding and were always inventive with using different flours in each strand. I look forward to more Challah!

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