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? I have no bad experience. Furthermore, growing up I watched both my grandmothers make the most amazing raised doughs turning out perfect every time. Anyway, a few weeks ago something snapped, and I decided to give it a go. And this is what happened:
I know, right? I haven’t been this proud since, well, I can’t even remember. This was serious life goals for me. I’ve overcome my reservations straightaway and now I encourage you to be brave too and try your hands at it. Made from a few simple ingredients, this 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… 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:
Foolproof Braided Challah for Beginners:
500 g all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 packet dry yeast
3 heaping tbsp sugar
250 ml milk
1 whole and 1 yolk of an egg + 1 whole egg for washing
1 tbsp unsalted butter
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 milk, stir to dissolve then pour mixture in the hole. Add 1 + 1/2 egg and set the machine on low speed. When the ingredients are roughly combined, add melted butter and continue kneading on low until a shiny ball of dough is formed, no longer sticking to the bowl (5-10 min). Remove hooks and let dough rise at room temperature for 45 min. Pour out on a lightly floured surface and turn over a few times gently pressing. Divide dough 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 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, but here’s a basic 3-strand braid step-by-step to give you an idea:
Hope you are now convinced and will give homemade challah a shot. I’d love to hear how yours turned out, so let me know!
Photo featured in title image by Heather of French Press
Braiding images by Darla of Bakingdom