I know, I know, "Challah 101" is supposed to come first. Well, sometimes, life doesn't work that way. Rosh Hashanah is coming up and I thought I'd share how I make the special challah bread that is part of the New Year celebration.
I use a recipe that I adapted from Food.com. I have tweaked the recipe over the years, but since the "change 10% and call it new" idea might not hold up under close scrutiny, I've included the link to the original recipe.
My challah recipe:
1 cup water (or 1 1/4 cups if you are making whole wheat/white flour -- see below)
1 heaping tsp salt
1/3 cup cooking oil
4 1/4 cups bread flour (or 2 cups whole wheat + 2 1/4 cups bread flour)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp bread machine yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins (optional)
cinnamon sugar (optional)
I use a bread machine to make the challah dough. You can also make the dough the old-fashioned way. I'm just too fond of my modern conveniences.
Place the first seven ingredients in the bread machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Process the ingredients in the Dough cycle (or "Raisin Dough" cycle if using raisins).
When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, immediately remove the dough to a floured surface and flatten into a large semi-rectangle.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Divide the dough into three sections and roll each into a long strand (approximately 24 inches).
Pinch ends of strands together at one end and braid tightly. Pinch other end.
Shape into a circle and tuck ends together to form a continuous braid. This doesn't have to be perfect. When the bread rises and bakes, it will look fine.
Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Cover the dough and leave to rise in a warm location for 45-60 minutes.
Brush the raised dough with beaten egg.
Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.