Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Midweek Recipes: Hillman's Challah

Feel free to pronounce the first sound in "Hillman" the same as the first sound in "Challah". I do when I look at this recipe. Sorry, Hillman, I can't help it.

Anyway, some time ago, I blogged about challah and it was delicious and the recipe looked about as complicated as a recipe can be. I tried my dear (and awesome--see below) friend's (you also know her as The Priestess of Irish Car Bomb Cupcake fame) challah recipe and it was easily more delicious and is a much more user-friendly recipe. The addition of honey is *lipsmack* yummy. Try this one instead.

minorly adapted from Ethnic Cuisine by Elisabeth Rozin

Proof 1 Tbls. yeast in 1/3 c. warm water

Meanwhile, mix in a large bowl:
1/4 c. honey
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs + 1 egg white (save the yolk)
2/3 c. warm water

Then pour in the yeast water and mix well.

2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour (all-purpose white)

Beat until more or less smooth.

Add 3 more cups of flour to make a smooth, elastic dough. It'll still be sticky, though. Give it about an 8 minute knead, adding the smallest amount of flour you can as you go to keep it from sticking to everything. If you sneak in as little flour as possible, the challah will reward you with tenderness, but the dough will be too sticky to get away with adding none.

When your knead is done, oil, cover, and let rise in a warm place for an hour. Prep your baking sheet towards the end of the hour--I use oiled parchment.

Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Take one half and divide into two parts--2/3 and 1/3. Take the large part and divide into 3 parts and braid. Take the smaller part and divide into 3 parts and braid, then put the smaller braid on top of the large braid. Repeat for the second half of the dough. Now you have two challot--it's traditional to have two.

Cover and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Take the reserved egg yolk and mix in 2 tsp. water. Brush both loaves thoroughly with the egg wash. Sprinkle poppy seeds or sesame seeds, or leave as is. Place loaves in a cold oven. Set it to 400 and bake for 25-30 minutes until nicely golden brown.

Two confessions:
  1. I ran out of all-purpose flour in the middle of this recipe. If you've ever seen the quantities of flour and sugar I buy, you would think such a thing would be impossible. I apparently thought so too. So, I used part bread flour and it still worked out beautifully.
  2. I still prefer the single braid, personally, but I'm a goy.

Hillman (as we most affectionately refer to her):

And if you know who those men are surrounding her, you know exactly how awesome she is.

P.S. I changed my mind about what I'm baking next. Spring has sprung and I'm craving lemons. In an ideal world, I'd make the tarts on the cover of BAKED. But I don't have mini-tart pans right now. So I'm trying this Shaker Lemon Pie recipe of Martha's. Bread & Puppet Theater bread another time.