Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry

Challah Bread

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Fresh off my success with the Apple Sauce and Oat Bread, I decided to try my hand at something a bit more traditional. At first I looked at some recipes for the bread machine but I kept coming back to loaves that would have needed some handling. To me, putting a bunch of ingredients into the bread machine, only to take the dough ball out later to kneed it or shape it, doesn’t save me any effort. If I’m putting all the ingredients into a machine, it might as well be my wife’s trusty Kitchen Aid mixer.

The bread type that I decided I wanted to make was Challah. I found a very interesting recipe online that caught my eye because it used some orange juice in place of plain water. I was sold, even though I didn’t expect the small amount of juice to produce any noticeable orange-y flavor. I can’t help it, I just like jamming fruits and juices into recipes where you don’t expect them. I’m a maniac.

I didn’t make any major changes or substitutions to the recipe, so I’m reproducing it here as a relatively faithful, albeit terse, paraphrasing of the original. I did leave out the poppy seeds, as a matter of personal preference. I’ll give a review of my results, and suggest you go read the original recipe for more information,

Challah Bread

  • Package of dry bread yeast
  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • 1/2 Cup warm water
  • 1/3 Cup orange juice
  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil (+ extra)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 1-1/2 Tsp sea salt
  • 4-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour (+ extra)
  1. Combine the yeast, water and sugar in your mixing bowl, mixed gently. Wait 5 minutes for the yeast to proof and foam up.
  2. Whisk in the orange juice, olive oil, 2 of the eggs, the honey and the sea salt
  3. Using the bread hook of your mixer, begin beating the mixture. Add in flour, 1 cup at a time, waiting between cups to make sure that the result is smooth.
  4. When all the flour is in, mix for 5 more minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic
  5. Pull the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a floured surface. Kneed by hand for two minutes
  6. Form the dough into a ball and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil
  7. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. Punch down.
  8. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour more. Punch down.
  9. On a floured surface, cut the dough ball into 4 even pieces. Roll each out into strands.
  10. Braid the 4 strands into a round. Place it on a greased cookie sheet.
  11. Whisk the remaining egg, and wash the surface of the bread with egg. Allow the loaf to sit for 30 minutes more.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  13. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes, or until done.

Results

I’m pretty happy with this bread. It looks great, smells fantastic, and tastes like Challah.

DSC_3725

DSC_3726

DSC_3724

There’s something not quite right about the texture of it, however. It’s too….floury, and not smooth enough. Maybe I added too much flour, or maybe I didn’t kneed enough or didn’t let it rise long enough, or something. The recipe calls for 4.5 cups of flour, so that’s what I added to the mixing bowl. I don’t know if that last half cup was supposed to be reserved for flouring my countertop. Maybe I worked too much extra flour into the dough when I was kneeding it. In the pictures from the original recipe, the dough appears to be stickier than it ever was for me. Next time, I’ll follow my gut and cut down the flour to 4 cups even, to see if that helps.

Dana also commented that she thought the bread could have used a little more salt. I thought it was fine in this department, but I could be convinced to add a little extra next time.

Besides the texture issue, which all but disappears in the presence of some butter, this loaf of bread was a big success. I’m really looking forward to figuring out what my next loaf is going to be.

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Author: Andrew Whitworth

I'm a software engineer from Philadelphia PA. Sometimes I like to go out to my garden, or step into my kitchen and make a really big mess of things.

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