I was in the mood for challah. Challah is a Jewish bread, traditionally served on the Sabbath but in recent years has become a popular bread to be eaten all week. It’s a wonderful soft, sweet bread akin to the French brioche. Tradition would dictate that 2 loaves were baked, one for eating on the Friday evening and the other for the Saturday as the sabbath doesn’t actually end until after sundown on the Saturday night and the law tells us that we’re not supposed to ‘work’ on the sabbath, which includes baking bread.
I guess the inclusion of honey and eggs into the bread guarantees a longer shelf life for the loaves. The recipe below is easily enough for two loaves but if you want to impress with a bit of a centrepiece bread then go for one large loaf, it’s surprisingly easy to do yet looks complicated enough to elicit a few wows from the crowd.
This recipe has 3 proves and calls for the bread to rest in the fridge overnight so you need to make it the evening before you want to eat it. (That’s Thursday night for all my Jewish friends!!)
700g strong white bread flour
1 and a 1/2 teaspoons salt
80g unsalted butter
2 generous teaspoons of honey
2 teaspoons fast action dried yeast
3 large eggs – beaten
8ft oz warm milk
1 egg beaten for the glaze
I’m using the incredible mixed super seed topper from The Cornish Sea Salt Company but you can use your favourite types of seeds or nuts for this.
Place the flour and salt in a large ceramic bowl and rub in the butter, then stir in the yeast and the salt
Place the honey into the milk and warm it gently, then pour this and the beaten egg to the flour
Using a rubber spatula, bring it together until a dough forms, then turn it our onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft. It will be very sticky at first but a little flour sprinkled on your work surface will help. Oil the bowl.
Place the kneaded dough back into the oiled bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise until doubled in size, which should be roughly an hour.
Knead again for 5 minutes, then place it back in the bowl and let it rise again, till doubled
Once risen, remove from the bowl and divide into two. These will be your two loaves and you can prepare them however you wish. You can free-form them onto a baking tray, or plait them – whatever you fancy. (I did a very simple 3 braid challah for one of my loaves.) Or, as I’ve done, you can make a ‘tear and share’ bun loaf.
Tear and Share Bun Loaf
Sprinkle your seed topper into a bowl. In another bowl beat and egg with a little water.
Grease and line your loaf tin. I’m using my Nordic Ware naturals 1.5lb Loaf Pan from Divertimenti. Divide the dough into 6 and roll into balls. Dip 3 of the balls into the egg mix and then into the seed topper mix. Lay all 6 balls into the baking pan.
Pop both loaves into the fridge over night, then in the morning, brush with egg again and bake on 190c for 15-20 minutes until golden and risen.
Check out Dom in the Kitchen for more bread recipes.
Eat and of course, enjoy!