As a part of the daring baker challenge, I had to make Challah.
Challah is a bread of celebration in Jewish tradition. At a time when white flour was considered a luxury, its use was reserved for either the wealthy or for festive events. In Judaism, the Sabbath is a weekly holiday, and therefore is a festive occasion. It was around the 15th century when Jews in parts of Austria and Germany adopted an oval braided loaf from their neighbors to make the Sabbath special. These fancy shaped loaves made with white flour were seen as a fitting way to honor the Shabbat (Sabbath), symbolized in Jewish culture as a queen, therefore deserving of the finest one can achieve.
May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
Whole Wheat Challah Bread
- Dry active yeast - 2 and ¼ tsp
- Warm water - ½ cup
- Brown sugar - ¼ cup
- Unsalted butter - ¼ cup ( at room temperature )
- Salt - 1 tsp
- Egg - 1
- Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
- All purpose flour - 1 cup
- 1 egg beaten with a 1 tsp of water
- Add yeast to the bowl of the stand mixer and add warm water to it.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes until frothy.
- Add egg, brown sugar, butter, salt, whole wheat flour and all purpose flour to the bowl and mix with a spatula.
- Put dough hook to the mixer and knead the dough for 5-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- ( If using hands, knead the dough on a working slab for 10-15 minutes )
- Add more flour if required.
- Make a ball of the dough and keep it in a oiled bowl.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in warm place for 2 hours, until it doubles in size.
- Once the dough has doubled, punch down and again cover and keep it in a warm place for an hour.
- Punch the dough again and divide it into 2 parts.
- One part should be ⅓ rd of the dough and the other should be ⅔ rd.
- Divide each part into 3 equal balls and roll and braid two loaves.
- Keep the smaller braid on top of the bigger braid.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and keep aside for an hour.
- Pre heat the oven to 180 degree C.
- Brush the loaf with egg wash mixture and sprinkle some sesame seeds.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom.
- Transfer the loaf to the wire rack to cool.