In the last 14 months, I have tried about that many challah recipes. Okay, maybe a few less than 14, but not by much.
I’ve tried recipes from friends, from cookbooks, and from blogs. I’ve baked challahs with 100% whole wheat flour (which is like eating a brick), 65% whole wheat, 50% whole wheat, and just a touch of whole wheat.
There were the recipes that called for applesauce, the ones that called for sugar, and the ones that called for honey. I let the dough rise on the counter, in a warmed oven, and directly underneath our heating unit.
Sometimes the dough was impossibly sticky, sometimes it was impossibly dry. It always seemed to make braiding a nightmare (just ask my husband — he’s braided 95% of our challahs).
I could go on like this for quite some time, but I’ll spare you.
The point is that I just couldn’t get the perfect challah. Some were bleh, some were okay, some were good…some were even very good. But none were absolutely amazing, and I always felt I hadn’t gotten it right.
Until this week.
The challah dough I made on Tuesday came together easily in the food processor. It actually rose like I wanted. And it was simple to work with!
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Meg at Peaches and Cake, a new food blogger who posted the recipe.
My braiding skills may leave something to be desired (I’m still new at this since my husband’s been spoiling me) — but the point is that so far, it’s worked! Now all that’s left to do is eat it.
We’re doing that tomorrow night. With guests.
Wish me luck.
Adapted from Peaches and Cake
Yield: One loaf (get ready to quadruple, people!)
- 1 tsp + 3 Tbsp sugar
- ½ cup + ¼ cup warm water
- 2¼ tsp dry yeast
- 2 cups + ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup + ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 egg yolk, to brush on top
1. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in ½ cup warm water in a measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast and mix. Let stand about 3 minutes or until foamy.
2. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, remaining 3 Tbsp sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with the knife blade.
3. Pour in yeast mixture and process for about 15 seconds.
4. Add 2 eggs and 1/3 cup 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 ¼ cup all-purpose flour and remaining ¼ cup whole wheat flour and process until well blended.
7. Turn dough out on a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.
8. Place dough in a large bowl greased with a bit of oil, flop it over to grease top of dough, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
9. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 350 F/180 C.
10. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll and pull the portions into ropes and then braid them together as desired (I used this video to help with the 6-strand braid).
11. Brush the top of your braided challah with egg yolk and top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, oats, zaatar…whatever you like.
12. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30-40 minutes. You’ll know the magic is working when your house starts filling with the scent of fresh challah. When done, the top should be golden brown and the challah should make a hollow sound when tapped.