As you all know, every Friday we bake a loaf of fresh Challah for our Shabbat celebration.
My very first loaf that I made many years ago as a newly married woman in our tiny kitchen in a two-bedroom house was not perfect. It was wonky, not sweet enough and only partially baked. Of course since then I have made many, many loaves, and over the years we have perfected our recipe and now know what makes a good loaf of Challah.
Since getting a bread maker about a year ago we have been using it to prepare the dough.
These days we make Challah not only for Shabbos but also to bring to friends who are ill, people we visit and even as a housewarming present.
Recently a new family moved into the house at the end of our garden, so when our fence fell into their garden during the storm I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce ourselves and, of course, bring over some Challah!
I thought I might share our favourite recipe with you, it’s an easy one and turns out perfect every time.
I feel like I should mention that traditionally it is not okay to use dairy ingredients when making bread unless you clearly label the bread as a dairy, for example by melting some cheese on top.
This is due to the dietary rules of Judaism which do not allow the mixing of meat and dairy.
Bread is usually assumed to be parve, so when you put butter in your bread you or someone else might accidentally eat it with meat.
We do not eat meat very often in our home, so we usually make our Challah with butter and milk, but you can substitute a non-dairy spread and rice milk and your results should be almost the same.
7g sachet of fast action yeast
410g white bread flour
75g white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
90g unsalted butter or a non-dairy spread
180ml milk or rice milk
optional: 1 egg and poppyseeds for decorating the finished Challah. Do not put these into your breadmaker.
Put the ingredients into your breadmaker in the order suggested by the manufacturer. For our breadmaker it is the order listed above.
We use setting number 16 which is the longer of the two dough settings and takes 2 hours and 20 minutes.
When your dough is finished rising, separate it into six equal pieces and roll them into snake shapes.
Pinch the ends of the dough strands together and braid them. You can find instructions for how to braid with six strands here, it looks much more difficult than it actually is.
Now put your braided dough into a greased baking pan and put it into your cold oven. Turn your oven up to 50C. Your Challah will rise while the oven heats up. Leave the Challah to rise in the oven for a total of about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
During the summer months our Challah rises on the windowsill or on our table outside.
When your Challah has doubled in size it is time to turn your oven up to 150C and let your Challah bake for around 20 minutes, checking on it frequently.
When it starts to turn golden brown it is time to take it out of the oven. Whisk an egg together and paint your challah with it. I like doing two coats as it makes the Challah look quite shiny. You can sprinkle poppyseeds on top now, too.
Put the Challah back in the oven for another ten minutes. It is finished when you can stick a toothpick into it and it comes out clean.
I hope you like it, it is excellent dipped in salt, served with jam, toasted and even makes an amazing french toast or bread-and-butter-pudding.
Have a wonderful day!