Challah: The un-brown

two-challah

Yesterday I made two challah (what is the plural of challah?). They tasted delicious and used 6 (!!) eggs, but they’re just not quite as brown and shiny as I had hoped. I completed doused them in an egg wash and feared that if I added any more they might start to look like, you know, scrambled eggs or something when they baked. What’s the secret?

Next time I do this I’ll document and explain the braiding, which is actually pretty easy. Still getting a hang of this picture-taking thing. The recipe is more or less from Rose Berenbaum’s The Bread Bible. And yes, I am embarressed to say that I use her mesauring system, when you use a scale to measure the dry ingredients. Jilly assures me that you do not actually have to do this.

Challah

Starter:
5 oz or 1 c. flour
1 t. yeast
2/3 c. water
2 T honey (I use less)
3 eggs

Remaining dough:
23 oz or 4 2/3 c. flour
1 1/4 t. yeast
1 T salt
2 eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
a smidgen more honey

What to do:

1. Combine the starter ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Combine the remaining flour and yeast in another bowl. Pour the big bowl of dry flour on top of the little bowl of wet dough. Don’t mix it. Set it aside for about an hour.

2. Add the remaining two eggs, salt, oil, and honey to the bowl. If you’re kneading by hand, mix it with a spoon, then knead. If you’re using a stand mixer, just crank it up and beat for about 7 minutes until it’s smooth and shiny. Transfer to it an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours, until it’s doubled.

3. (Optional) Punch it down and let it double again.

4. Shape it. You can make one giant loaf, with either three or four strands in the braid, or you can make two small loafs, like I did. Basically, you roll out three long snakes (about 12 inches long each) and start braiding them from the middle. Seal the ends. Make an egg wash from 1 egg, combined with 1 T water, and thoroughly paint the dough. Then cover and let raise another hour.

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350. When they’re done raising, cover them with yet more egg wash (apparently, use more than looks possible).  Bake for about 40-50 minutes. Check halfway through to make sure they’re not getting too brown (hah!). If they are, cover them loosely with foil.

This is fairly dry bread, so if you don’t plan to eat it right away, freeze it. We like to cut it up first so it’s ready for sandwiches.

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