Today’s recipe is a mouth-watering, crowd-pleasing classic, courtesy of the kitchen of my very own mom.
The original recipe actually comes from the Food Section of the LA Times circa 1981.
As I was making it, I kept thinking about my mom discovering this recipe for the first time.
She must have been a newlywed in her early twenties at the time, just like me, and have recently moved to a new big city.
She probably spotted it in the paper and thought, “Ooo…my guy is going to loooovvve this!”
Oh and I KNOW he did.
I mean really, who DOESN’T love freshly-baked bread?
I think you have be some sort of crazy person not to.
Let alone sweet, slightly-chewy, egg-washed bread that just BEGS to be dunked in honey, as is common in the Jewish tradition to signify hopes for a “sweet” new year ahead during the holiday of Rosh Hashanah…
…or in gobs of butter and bordelaise sauce, as is common in MY family’s tradition!
Challah, in its usual form or variation, is served in a round or spiral shape.
This version that my mom makes is a long, braided challah, which facilitates quick and easy slicing.
I’d love to try making a big, round spiral loaf next time though.
This L.A. Times article also has variations of the recipe that include honey, potatoes, and poppy seeds, but we’ll just start with the basics for now.
I’m a newbie, OK?
I remember my mom would surprise us with a loaf of challah and leave it on the counter next to a bread knife.
…And then my dad and my brothers and sisters and I would dive into it face first and inhale it in about two minutes flat.
Baking bread has this bad rap for taking too much time to make.
But really, when you think about it, it takes no time at all.
Okay yes, I know, you have to prep it and then it has to rise and then you have to bake it, blah blah blah, and that in itself takes a lot of “time.”
But, if you can integrate the prep-rise-bake process with other activities in your day, i.e., catching up on the news, cleaning your dirty kitchen, making lunch for the next day, studying for that big exam, walking your dog, or perhaps pumpin’ some iron with your dear friend Jillian Michaels, then baking bread is actually a cinch!
This challah bread is equally scrumptious served as a side for a dinner party, as toast for breakfast, and alone by itself.
It also makes a great homemade gift for friends, co-workers, and party hosts – just wrap in a large sheet of cellophane and secure with twine or a pretty ribbon.
If you feel like adding a sweet kick, knead a half cup of raisins into the dough.
Mmm…I am definitely going to try this next time.
I made this recipe in a food processor with a knife blade, but it could also be made in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook
…or if you’re an arm-wrestling champion, with a handheld electric mixer with a dough hook.
Recipe adapted from “Sabbath Bread a Tradition for the New Year,” by Judy Zeidler, Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1981.
Makes one loaf.
*Note: There are a few odd parts about this recipe with regards to the stages in which items are added to the dough. Take care and read the ingredients and instructions before you begin!
1 teaspoon + another 3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup + another ¼ cup warm water
1 packet or 2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
3 cups + another ½ cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup raisins (optional)
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water in measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast and mix. Let stand about 3 minutes or until foamy.
2. Place 3 cups flour, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and salt in food processor with knife blade.
3. Pour in yeast mixture and process for about 15 seconds.
4. Then add 2 eggs and 1/3 cup vegetable oil through feed tube and process until blended, about 10 seconds.
5. Add remaining ¼ cup warm water and process until well blended.
6. Add remaining ½ cup flour and process until well blended.
7. Turn dough out on floured board and knead (*optional: you may knead in 1/2 cup raisins into the dough at this point) until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.
8. Place dough in large bowl greased with a little bit of vegetable oil, flop it over to grease top of dough, cover with towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk; about 1 hour. During this time, do something fun or productive!
9. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
10. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll and pull the portions into ropes and then braid them together. Then tuck the ends of the braid underneath so that it looks pretty and neat. If desired, use a little pat of water to make the ends stick together.
11. Brush with egg yolk all over the top.
12. Place on a baking sheet lightly greased with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. After about 20 minutes of cooking, or until the top of the loaf starts to achieve an even brown, cover the baking sheet with a big piece of foil and place back into the oven. Bake until the top stops looking too “dough-y,” or when a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf registers about 200 degrees. The cook time will vary depending on how big your loaf is. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s better to cook the loaf a little longer than to undercook it. You’ll know if it’s overcooked if the bottom of the loaf starts to look burnt.
Thanks all for tuning in to my new blog, and have an AWESOME weekend!
What will you be up to this weekend? But even more importantly, what will you be cookin’ in the kitchen?
over and out,
peaches & cake