Soft, slightly chewy, a touch sweet and a whole lot delicious, challah is a staple of Jewish cooking, traditionally served on the Friday night Kiddush or before a festival, wine is used with a blessing followed by the challah – dipped in salt or, on at New Year, in honey to signify a good sweet year.
Whether you are Jewish or not give it a go, this is an amazing loaf and is truly massive! It has a good moisture/fat content so keeps really well and freezes brilliantly too so you can always divide the loaf, freeze and enjoy anytime.
I like to eat it toasted slathered in butter, it works beautifully in a brioche style bread and butter pudding and makes the best sandwiches ever!
· 750 g strong bread flour , plus extra for dusting
· 180ml warm water
· 180ml warm milk
· 10 g fast-action dried yeast
· 40 g caster sugar
· 1 tbsp honey
· 2 large free-range eggs
· 25g Butter softened
· Glug olive oil
· 8g salt
1 egg yolk mixed with a little water and a pinch of salt for glazing
1. In a jug mix water with yeast and 1 tsp of the weighed sugar and set aside for 15 mins. You should see bubbles forming on the surface This tells you it is active and good to use.
2. To the jug add milk, eggs, honey and remaining sugar and mix well.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer add the salt and the flour.
4. Add the eggy contents of the jug to the flour and using the dough hook attachment set to medium.
5. Add the softened butter then a glug of olive oil. Allow the mixer to do the work on medium speed for 10 minutes. Or knead by hand on an oiled surface for 10 mins.
6. Transfer your slightly sticky dough ball to a roomy oiled bowl and cover with cling film, sit in a cosy spot for 90 minutes or doubled in size.
7. Now you need to ‘knock back’ this is simply punching out all the air from the dough.
8. Get your ball of dough into a sausage shape and divide equally into 3, or 5 long sausages 40cm. (this depends on your braiding skills!)
9. Attach the sausages of dough at the far end together, and to the work top and begin plaiting, tuck the ends under to neaten.
10. Sit plait on some parchment paper on a large baking tray and pop the whole thing into a big plastic bag. (clean bin bags work well) I sometimes put a bottle inside to stop the plastic sinking and touching the dough.
11.Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4
12. Place again in a warm spot for 60 minutes or doubled in size, then gently brush the whole loaf in the glaze mix.
13. Put in a pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes, if you see that the loaf is getting too dark you can cover in some foil for the remainder of cooking time.
Your loaf should sound hollow on the base when tapped, place on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool down. Now enjoy!
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