I woke up the other day with a phantom scent of Challah in the air – that sweet, yeasty aroma. And while drinking my coffee, I could practically taste it. Have you ever had that feeling before? I have… it was a few months ago when I was visiting the farm. Lucky for me, Brett had all the ingredients in the pantry: bread flour, yeast, oil and sugar. Eggs were out in the chicken coup. The two loaves of challah had barely come out of the oven before I began tearing into. I pretended to have made only one loaf because when Brett and Chris returned, that’s all that was left. It was so, so good that when I got home, I immediately stocked my pantry with bread flour and yeast.
Challah is not an easy craving to satisfy quickly. The dough itself only takes about 20 minutes to pull together, but then it must rise twice: first in a big mass of dough and then a second rising after the loaves are formed.
My patience paid off…. And those aromas wafting through my house are real. Mmmm….Challah
1 package dry yeast
3 ½ cups bread flour
½ cup oil
¾ cup warm water
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
Poppy or sesame seeds
Combine water, yeast and ½ cup of flour in a mixing bowl (use the bowl of a kitchen aid if you have one). Mix to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes or until the slurry gets frothy.
Meanwhile, combine the oil, 2 eggs, sugar and salt. Add this to the flour/water/yeast mix and combine. Add the remaining flour and knead in a machine with a dough hook (10 minutes) or by hand (15 minutes).
Let rise for 4 hours on the counter, covered with plastic wrap, or in the refrigerator.Divide the dough into 8 balls and roll out into strands. Make two loaves with 4 strands each. For tips on braiding challah, go here. You can also watch YouTube videos. My mnemonic device is "over two, under one."
Make an egg wash with the remaining egg, and brush on top of the loaves. Sprinkle with seeds on top. Let rise for 1 hour.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Ideally, you should let it cool before eating, but you don’t have to.