I needed a little bit of a detox after the kouign amanns, so I didn’t do nearly as much baking in the last 2 weeks. A small group of us held a virtual bake-off for the kouign amanns – it was supposed to be a dinner party, but you know, pandemic – and decided to keep it going and do a biweekly challenge. This week’s challenge was challah bread. I’d never actually had challah bread before, so I didn’t know exactly what I was shooting for. I looked at some recipes, and finally found one King Arthur Flour that wasn’t made for feeding a small village! I went with a four strand braid, and am really excited at how nicely it turned out!
I halved the original recipe and made a few tweaks based on what I had available and put my altitude adjustments in italic. If you want a fat loaf or two loaves then you can probably stick with the original proportions. I live alone, and I would like to fit my jeans at the end of this quarantine 🙂
Also, here is a rough timing breakdown so you can pace appropriately. It will vary a little bit but should give you a decent sense of how long things will take. The active working steps are in bold.
15 minutes: combine ingredients
2 hours: proof
20 – 40 minutes: braid dough (with intermittent resting)
2 hours: proof
30 minutes: bake (375 F)
CHALLAH BREAD (adapted from here)
- 57 mL water – (I added 10 mL)
- 37 g vegetable oil
- 42 g honey*
- 1 egg
- 242 g flour (I used 235 g)*
- 0.75 tsp. salt
- 0.5 tbsp. instant yeast OR 13 g fresh yeast (I used 10 g fresh yeast)
- egg wash: 1 egg
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
- Knead the dough on a clean surface until gluten is developed.
- Form a boule and set on a lightly floured surface. Cover the dough, and let it proof at room temperature for ~2 hours. It will not necessarily double in size but it will grow.
- After the dough has proofed, deflate it, and lightly grease your working surface.
- Divide the dough into four equal portions (or however many strands you want the bread to have) and roll each portion into a little log.
- Let the dough rest for ~10 minutes, and then roll each log out a little more.
- Repeat the resting and rolling process until each log is an appropriate length (mine were ~12″ long) and then begin braiding them together. I used this video as a reference.
- Put the the braided loaf on a lined baking pan, cover, and let proof for ~2 hours at room temperature.
- Near the end of the proofing period, preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Mix one egg for an egg wash, and brush the entire surface of the loaf.
- Bake the loaf for ~30 minutes. Cover the top with aluminium foil once the top is sufficiently golden (10 – 20 minutes).
- I used cinnamon honey and it imparted a lovely cinnamon flavour to the bread!
- The original recipe called for all purpose flour, but I used bread flour.
- When braiding the dough, leave it a little loose so that it has room to expand.