I can't write this post without yelling "challah, challah" and wave my hands in the air! A challah that deserves a holla! Holla for playing around with yeast again after a solid two months of non-yeasty baking!
Currently life has been a lot of time in the operating room, a little bit of time in the clinic, and a surprising amount of free time. No weekends, no call, it's been a really nice way to ease into third year and I am extremely grateful for the time. I know it will only get crazier as the year flies by. Knowing this, my type A personality sent me through a frenzied state of brainstorming, overplanning, and hurried baking through recipes to build up a little arsenal for when the times get a little busy and baking sacrifices have to be made. But then I was starting to get into that all-too-familiar pattern of baking without real passion for what I was preparing. No real meaning behind the recipes, baking weird combinations just to try and stick out a little, leading to rushed results - flat breads that failed to rise and unphotogenic cakes that aren't quite ready for their blog debut.
So in the craziness I figured it was time to go back to the basics, since I'm still a noob and have lots to learn about bread baking. I set on baking challah, a beautifully braided eggy bread that works great for breakfast or as a snack with honey and jam. Cassie gave me a solid recommendation with an Allrecipes recipe she found a few years back, and I went with it.
This challah could not be a better way to get back into bread baking. The recipe is simple and the dough is forgiving. I was majorly nervous when I got to the braiding step, but the most important thing to do is stay calm and think slowly through each step of the braiding process. And before you even know it, you'll have some beautifully braided, deliciously soft and tender bread. It's a great starter bread for beginning bakers, and I'm passing along the roomie recommendation to all you guys. Happy baking!
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all purpose flour
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes until frothy.
Beat in the honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt.
Add the flour one cup at a time, gradually mixing until the dough thickens and pulls away from the bowl. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead until smooth and elastic, adding flour if needed. Place in a well oiled bowl and let it rise until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes. Then, divide each half into thirds and roll each third into a long rope about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch one end of the three ropes and then braid the bread, as you would braiding hair. Pinch the other end together and then repeat the braiding process with the second half.
Place the breads onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat. Cover with a towel and let it rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Beat the third egg in a bowl and brush a generous amount over each braid.
Bake the bread at 375 F for 40 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, that's when it is ready! Place on a cooling rack until warm enough to eat but cool enough to not burn your mouth. Enjoy!