Monday, February 28, 2011

The Challah Experiment for Fresh From the Oven

It's been a month since my last post and I am back with another post for the FFTO February challenge. I've never seen or even heard about the Challah and was glad for the opportunity to acquaint myself with this delightful loaf. The Challah is a traditional Jewish bread and this challenge was hosted by Dom of Belleau Kitchen and to quote Dom:

"For those who don't know, Challah is the sweet, light and eggy bread traditionally served on the Friday night Sabbath..." . For those interested in more details please to check this link.

(Dom's Recipe)

Yeast : 1 sachet easy blend dried yeast (about 1 1/2 tsp)
Honey : 1tsp 
Milk : 8fl oz (about 1 cup); lukewarm
Butter : 50g; melted
Flour : 16oz (about 450 gms; I used all purpose flour/ maida)
Salt : 1 tsp
Eggs :2 lightly beaten - in separate bowls - one for the mix and one for glazing (I used only one and in later versions omitted it)
Poppy seed or sesame seeds (optional)

Quoting Dom again  .....

"Combine the yeast, honey, milk and butter, stir and leave for 15mins to dissolve

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and one of the beaten eggs.  Stir to make a dough. (It will be very sticky and will definitely need extra flour for kneading)

Knead till smooth and elastic (a good 15 mins) then transfer to a clean bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a baking sheet. Knock back the dough and divide into 3 equal pieces.  Roll to shape each piece into a long strip for plaiting.

Brush with egg and bake in a hot oven at 190 for 35 - 40 mins or until golden and sounds hollow if you tap it."

My Experiments in Challah Baking:

Challah 1: Used the recipe provided by Dom. Made only one slight modification, I brushed the loaf with a table spoon of milk and a wee bit beaten egg left in the bowl. The bread was super soft and toasted well. It disappeared so soon, i just had to make it again.... :)

Challah 2: Same ingredients except replaced egg with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed powder dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water. The dough needed a bit more milk while kneading. This bread turned out just as good except wasn't as soft. The flaxseed gave a nice nutty flavour.

Challah 3: Made two more changes - used half whole wheat flour and vegetable oil (1/4 cup) instead of butter. This dough needed more fluid for kneading and I used milk initially and then water. I went by feel and waited for the springy-smooth stage before leaving it to rise. I also made the strands a bit longer, which needed a shorter baking time and was more the pull apart variety than slice-and-eat :) The bread was obviously denser but enjoyable just the same. And this will probably be the Challh recipe I'll be keeping.

I braided all three Challah using Dom's instructions (you can look it up here), but I found many versions and am especially fascinated by the six strand variant and hope to try it sometime.

I'm sending my Challah to Susan of Wild Yeast to have them yeastspotted!


  1. I liked reading about your challah journey. I didn't know anything about it until this challenge either. Good luck with six strands (I don't think I'm a neat enough plaiter for that).

  2. Your third one with the longer strands does look very pretty and I am a fan of a pull-apart bread. I'm impressed at all your effort.

  3. WOW... I'm so impressed by your different recipes... they're fantastic!

  4. Thank you for taking part this month. Looks like you enjoyed it! Very inspiring.