Holla at Challah!

Last week I decided to try another recipe out of the wonderful Baking with Julia book.  A few girls in my class practice Judaism and are always talking about Challah bread.  I had never tasted it before and found the recipe in the book and thought I would give it a try.  The bread has two rises, which means you make the dough, let it rise, punch it down (not really punch, but actually deflate the dough), then you let it rise again.  It was a really sticky dough to the point that I had a hard time kneading it because it kept sticking to my table.  I had to use a lot of bench flour to get it to a workable consistency.

Once I got past the first rise, my phone rang and I got invited out to happy hour.  At first I said that I had to wait for my dough to rise and that I couldn’t make it; then I thought back to class when we started talking about retarding the dough in the refrigerator.  Even though this recipe didn’t call for the dough to be retarded, I decided to put it in there anyways and hoped that it wouldn’t cause any damage to my end product.

I took out the dough the next day and let it warm on the counter for a few hours; it rose quite nicely, actually!  I punched it down one more time, divided the dough in half, and divided each half into thirds.  I then braided them.  The recipe calls for a glaze of eggs and heavy cream but I just used a standard egg wash which seemed to work just fine.   It also said to use kosher salt on top which is usually what you want to use as opposed to table salt because kosher salt has bigger granules.  Of course, I didn’t have this in my house so I used table salt anyway.  It seemed to work just fine!

The bread baked really fast, and I’m sure part of this has to do with the fact that my oven runs about 25°-50° hotter than it should.  The ends were a little dark and the bottom crust was pretty thick, but really the bread tasted just awesome.  It lasts for a couple of days on the counter, wrapped up.  The book also has a suggestion of using it for french toast on the second day.  I didn’t try it with the first loaf, but I froze the second loaf and maybe I’ll try it with that.

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