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.
Such a blast! I really love baking bread, especially breads with yummy fillings that look beautiful! I have had Challah (pronounced ha-lah) on my to do list for a few years now. Who knew it could be so easy? Until now I sure didn’t!
I ended up making two different batches with two loaves each for a total of four loaves of bread. All four loaves ended up being plain or sweet. I thought about doing a savory bread but I made homemade pizza the same day so that was my savory for the day.
All four of my loaves are a honey white bread for the base. I am going to show all four on here but I really think that like the quick bread post each bread needs its own time. I used different techniques and different breads for each bread, so if you really like how one sounds you might have to come back in a few days for the actual recipe.
I started by making the dough and letting it rise in my warm kitchen. You can see that it was a monster after 2 hours of sitting in the bowl (that is my largest bowl from Tupperware). And you can also see that just as I was going to grab my camera to get a picture of the glorious rise, my husband poked his thumb around the entire thing.
I decided to do a four strand braid for my first loaf because it looked fairly easy to do, easier than the six strand, and I was going to save the three strand for the breads that had fillings. I divided the dough into fourths and rolled out each ball so that the center of each rope was a bit fatter than both ends.
Once all four ropes are rolled out you position them and pinch one end of each of the four strands together. It sure is nice to have pictures, huh. Sometimes you just can’t figure out how to word stuff so other people know what you are talking about. After you pinch the ends together, you begin braiding. I did the method Ruth shared of “farthest left strand goes over, then under, then over” etc. I kept chanting that as I braided to make sure I was going under and over when I was supposed to. It was really easy to do and before I knew it I had a beautifully braided loaf.
After sitting for another half an hour or so this loaf went into the oven where it baked for 30 minutes exactly. I was so giddy the few times I peeked in at it because it was actually doing what it was supposed to do! It’s always nice when that happens. The final result was a soft loaf of bread that was beautifully braided and browned. We had a few slices while it was warm but then turned to the more exciting twin that came from the same dough.
I’ll post on the other breads over the next few days. They also were made with the honey white bread base but I used a few different techniques to fill the strands before braiding. This would be way too long of a post if I included all the info, photos, and recipes that I gathered for this challenge. In the meantime, enjoy!
Caramel Chocolate Challah
Cinnamon, Sugar, and Raisin Challah
Honey White Challah
Source: Tammy’s Recipes
1 1/2 cups warm water, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon oil (light colored vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons yeast. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.
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.
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 11/2 hours.
Punch down the dough, divide it into two sections. Use one half to make each loaf. Shape or braid as desired. Place braided loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Brush tops loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted.) Bake loaves 30-40 minutes until done. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 2 loaves