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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baking Challah


Last week was Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish High Holy Days. As with most Jewish holidays, there is much eating. My dear friend Nancy had a lovely dinner party and I brought the bread. For almost every Jewish holiday (except for Passover!), the bread of choice is challah. Challah is a beautiful yeast bread, enriched with eggs and butter. It is braided and glazed so it bakes up to a gorgeous soft mahogany loaf. Very impressive! I've heard it compared to French brioche, but it's not quite that rich or sweet. Still, there is absolutely nothing wrong with home-baked challah. My challah was a huge hit at the dinner party.

I used a recipe from Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan and based on recipes from Julia's (as in Child) PBS series from the 90's called Baking with Julia. I made it in my stand mixer which I strongly recommend. First, the recipe makes 2 large loaves and that's a lot of dough to knead. Second, challah is a sticky dough to knead and the stand mixer makes it much easier. One thing I like about Julia's recipe is the instruction to save some of the glaze to brush the loaf partway through the baking. If you skip this step, you'll have lighter parts at the seams between the sections because of the expansion during baking. Glazing it again gives your challah an all-over tan. :-)

Here's a link to the recipe from an archive out there. Scroll down to the message from Lisa3575.

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