Time flies and Easter is already around the corner which, wether you are religious or not, means feasting with a capital F around this part of the globe. With my family being no exception, I wanted to bring you a recipe, something traditional for the holiday that you usually buy instead of making yourself: braided challah!
Since we are among friends here, I will confess that I had an inexplicable fear of everything calling for yeast. Why though? I had no bad experience. Furthermore, growing up I watched both my grandmothers make the most amazing raised doughs turning out perfect every time. Than something snapped, and there’s no stopping me since!
I’ve overcome my reservations and now I urge you to be brave too and try your hands at yeast dough. Made from a few simple ingredients, this challah will be the most delicious, sweet-smelling, flaky-soft and savory beauty on your holiday table and you will think twice getting it from the store again.
Yes, yeast dough is not a 30-minute deal but you can think ahead and prepare your challah in advance, it stays fresh for days. Not that it will stand a chance surviving long enough to dry out (but there’s alway the option for French toast at such an unlikely event). I forgot to measure the loaf when it was ready, but this batch will satisfy your average hungry family at the Easter table for sure. I used this very solid, basic master recipe from Origo Táfelspicc (in Hungarian with detailed photos of each step) and altered it just a bit. Here you go:
500 g AP flour
½ tsp salt
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 egg for the eggwash
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- Sift flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the dough hook attachment, make a hole in the middle.
- Add sugar to warm (never use hot!) milk, stir to dissolve then pour mixture in the hole.
- Add egg and yolk, set machine to low. When the ingredients are roughly combined, add butter and continue kneading on medium until a shiny ball of dough is formed, no longer sticking to the bowl (5-10 min).
- Place dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45 min.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide to as many balls of equal volume as the number of braids you want and let rest for 15 min.
- Roll balls into strands and braid loosely. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the challah on it.
- Wash with the lightly beaten egg, let rise for an additional 30 min. Wash with egg again and bake in a preheated oven at 175 °C for 30-45 min. until dark golden. Enjoy!
Try with butter, jam, honey, fois gras… and you can thank me later. 🙂
Once you feel comfortable with the dough, braiding challah is great fun and your loved ones will be sooo impressed with your new talent! You will find tons of tutorials on the different braiding patterns out there.
Hope you are feeling more confident about working with yeast and will give homemade challah a shot. I’d love to hear how yours turned out, so let me know!