And now for something completly different…

I know, I promised more tofu, but I recieved an urgent request for Challah. So, as I make ready to go attend the The 16th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival and listen to El Meod Na’Ala Orphaned Land (I want to go back to Isreal just to SEE these guys!!! Darnit, tour in America!), I thought I’d help out an annonymous request!

Challah. The bread of my people. The one traditional thing that even I’m not renegade enough to tamper too much with. Oh, not to say that I don’t! Heaven forbid a hopeful chef not exploring new terrain! The mix of metal and traditional Israli music is fuel me now, and it’s time to break out of the box! Let’s do this! This is a variation of a recipe from The Jewish Catalog by Siegel, Strassfeld, and Strassfeld, JPS, and it’s traditional with a twist!

CHALLAH RECIPE

1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
2 packages dry yeast
1 cup boiling water
4 teaspoons salt
7 cups flour
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons liquid garlic extract

Pour the oil, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup boiling water and stir; add 1/2 cup cold water.

Dissolve 2 packages dry yeast in 1/3 cup warm water.

Beat 3 eggs, and add to oil and water mixture, saving 1 tablespoon of beaten eggs to be brushed on loaves before baking.

Add dissolved yeast and stir.

Add 7 cups of unbleached flour and mix well.

Turn out on floured board and knead until dough does not stick to board or hands. Add more flour if necessary.

Return dough to bowl and cover with a clean towel.

Place in oven that has been preheated for 1 minute and then turned off.

Let dough rise for 1 hour; it will double in bulk. If poked with finger, the hole will remain.

Turn dough out on lightly floured board and knead for 1 minutes.

Cut into 12 equal pieces and knead each piece with a little flour until it is not sticky.

Let rest while you grease a cookie sheet with vegetable shortening.

Roll each piece of dough into a strand about 8 inches long. Make four braided loaves.

Place on baking sheet and let rise for 45 minutes at room temperature.

Mix garlic extract with remaining egg atop the loaves.

Bake in 375 degree F oven for 40 minutes, then remove loaves to racks to cool.

Now, let’s say you have an hour before shabbos, and you find out the parents are coming over! No time to raise the loaves, and they will KNOW if you got it from the bakery! What to do?!? Well, this is an emergency-only quick fix I use. First, get 4 tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, and use the egg wash from the previous recipe (One tablespoon of egg and 2 tablespoons liquid garlic extract mixed together, though you could just use one egg.). Take the crecent rolls out of the cans and roll two of each sections of dough together into ropes. Using the same method of braiding loaves, braid the ropes together into loaves. You SHOULD have enough for two loaves. Paint with the egg wash, then bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until covered with a golden crust. Finally remove from the oven and let cool.

Now, I do NOT reccomend this for use except in emergencies! While it tastes & looks like Challah, it’s just… Not the same! I know, I know, I’m supposed to be all renegade and all that, but some things shouldn’t be tampered with. Now, MY variation in the loaf above is to get rid of the sesame seeds most smother their loaves with, and instead use liquid garlic extract in the egg wash. It gives the bread a lice touch, almost like garlic bread without the butter! I’m also working on a variation of Hawaiian sweet bread challah, too, per my wife’s request:

Hawaiian Sweet Challah

1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup mashed potato
2 Tbsp sugar
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c butter
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
4- 4 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, mix together the water, mashed potatos, sugar, and the yeast. Set aside once mixed to proof for five minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat your milk, salt, and butter over low heat until the butter is completely melted.

Cool mixture to lukewarm and whisk in eggs (Keep aside one tablespoon of the eggs for the eggwash!).

Add milk-egg mixture to the potatoes and yeast. Stir well.

Add 3/4 cup sugar and enough of the 4 1/2 cups flour to make a workable dough.

Knead for a few minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in oiled bowl, turn once and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a light, clean dishtowel.

Let it rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough before cutting into 8 thick strands.

Braid into Challah loaf before covering over and letting rise until doubled in size.

Give it a LIGHT egg wash (1 tablespoon egg. No garlic on this one, as it’ll distract from the sweet taste.)

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown.

So, I hope this gives you some ideas on Challah recipes! Until next time, Shalom and good cooking!

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February 9, 2006. bread, fanboying, recipes.

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