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Beautiful challah bread

Simple Challah Recipe, with braiding instructions


Description

Rich, sweet challah recipe, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.


Ingredients

For the tangzhong paste

  • ½ C water
  • 3 Tbsp bread flour

Dough

  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • ¼ C water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ¾ C (15⅛ oz) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • ¼ C (1¾ oz) sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 Tbsp sesame or poppy seeds, optional

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

Make the dough

  • Stir together the ingredients for the paste in a microwave-safe bowl until there are no lumps.
  • Cook the paste mixture in the microwave in 20-second intervals, whisking between cooks, until the mixture is thick, like slightly-stiff cream of wheat or pudding.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the oil, egg, egg yolks, flour paste, and remaining water.

Making the wet-base for challah

  • Change the mixer attachment out for the dough hook.
  • Add the remaining flour and the yeast. Mix together until all the flour is moistened.
  • Let the dough sit, covered, for 20 minutes to hydrate and autolyze. (Use a timer to keep track of the time.)
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  • Add the sugar and salt and knead the dough for nine minutes at medium speed.
  • Remove the dough and grease the inside of the bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Put the dough back in, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise at 85°F (29°C) until doubled in volume, about 90 minutes.

readying the dough to ferment

Braid the bread

  • Turn the bread out on a countertop. Do not flour the countertop! You need the friction of the bare counter to help keep the strands in place while braiding.
  • Divide the dough into four equal parts and roll them all out into strands about 14–16 inches long.
  • Pinch all four strands together at one end and number the positions, 1–4.
  • Cross strand 4 over strand 2.
  • Cross strand 1 over strand 3.
  • Cross strand 2 over strand 3.
  • Repeat the pattern until you run out of dough. Pinch the strands together and tuck them under the loaf.
  • Place the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover it loosely with plastic wrap that has been oiled on the contact side.
  • Set the loaf aside to proof in a place that is as close to 85°F (29°C) as possible.
  • Allow the loaf to rise until it no longer springs back easily or fully when poked, about 2–3 hours.

Bake

  • When the bread is done proofing, or nearly so, preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Make the egg wash by beating together the egg, the pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of water.
  • Brush the egg wash onto the surface of the loaf. If you are using the sesame or poppy seeds, sprinkle them on now.

Challah going in the oven

  • Place the loaf in the oven and bake.
  • After 35 minutes of baking, check the internal temperature of the loaf with your Thermapen ONE. If the lowest temp you see is 195–200°F (91–93°C), the bread is done.
  • Let the bread cool before slicing, then serve and enjoy!

Sliced challah