Please don’t hate me.
I swear I haven’t forgotten about my precious, toddler baby. I’m talking about this blog, obvs. Since my last post (IN JULY! Insert monkey covering his eyes emoji here), so much has changed in my life. Actually, if we’re being nitpicky about dates, things started changing months before that. Anyway, my life was shaken up this summer, and I haven’t had a chance to catch up and get back in the kitchen. I miss it so, so much but things have been moving and shifting every day, I haven’t had a chance to bake something for you guys. It’s hard because I love doing this. My dad even asked me if I stopped baking, which kind of broke my heart.
I don’t know how much longer things are going to be changing, but I’m going to try my best to make it back into the kitchen to make something. Like, even my weekly loaves of bread have been sporadic! Anyway, I’m here right now and hope to keep coming back regularly soon.
While we’re on the topic of bread, let’s talk challah. This stuff, omg. I love carbs. I want to say I love them all equally but I probably don’t. Bread has a really soft (ha) spot in my heart. Not even all kinds of bread, but most. In that soft spot, I have a large section just for challah. Imagine that soft spot looking like a pie chart, with the largest chunk dedicated to challah.
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the things we always get at Sam’s Club is the twin pack of challah loaves. My sister and I can demolish that bag in days. We could do it in one day, if you let us. It is SO GOOD. Granted, it’s supermarket challah, so I know the quality isn’t super top notch but it’s still delicious. We just grab chunks right out of the bag until it’s gone, because my sister and I have no shame (knives or self control, apparently).
The thing I love most about challah bread is that it’s an egg bread. Once upon a time, when my parents were cool, they’d go to the local Dominican bakeries and bring back giant loaves of ‘egg bread.’ It was this long loaf of yellow bread with a crunchy crust, and super yellow interior; almost unnaturally yellow but it never crossed that line. I used to love eating slices upon slices, slathered in mayo and covered with white cheese. When I first ate challah, I heard it was an egg bread. I thought about the egg bread I grew up with, thinking it was similar. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it wasn’t.
Challah loaves are freaking beautiful, and anyone who disagrees can just leave. Like, where else can you see something so golden brown, shiny, and bulbous? With the fluffiest interiors, and the richest taste?? Nowhere, duh. Speaking of that bulbous look, braiding these things is a lot harder than it looks. I mean, who the hell knows how to do a six strand loaf?? This is my second attempt at challah bread, and I gave up on the six strand braid like two seconds in. It’s complicated as fuck, and seemingly no one has made a tutorial video on it. Sure, there are written directions with pictures basically everywhere, but it’s not the same as seeing someone actually weaving this thing. Whatever.
So, we went to Sam’s Club for the month, and got our pair of loaves. My sister and I slowly ate it in about two days. I would grab a piece every morning when I got home from overnights (BRUTAL), but I quickly ran out. I had to eat cereal for breakfast for two whole days. Who does that?! I needed my fix, so I decided to make it again.
I used the amazing Deb’s recipe for this, and exchanged two cups of the AP flour for some bread flour. I’m always perplexed when a bread recipe is made with all AP, and questioned it. I decided to give it a go here, but not enough to completely mess with the recipe (because why fix what’s not broken?). I royally messed up the braiding (quelle surprise), so I decided to just make four three strand loaves. Originally, they were supposed to be two six strand loaves. That wasn’t happening, so I decided to stick with what I knew.
Can I just tell you how beautiful these things are. I mean, look at them! Freaking gorgeous. They’re golden brown and bulbous; just like the real ones you see at bakeries (or the ones we pick up at Sam’s Club). The insides are fluffy and rich and overall amazing. These loaves taste legit. Like, for real. I know a supermarket loaf is nothing to compare to but it tastes like challah. The smell of these things while baking is also just hypnotizing. Like, I want a challah scented candle. It’s that good!
I hope you’ll forgive my absence with this presence of carbs. I keep hearing that the way to one’s heart is through their stomach. Hopefully, that meant a stomach full of delicious carbs 🙂
- 3 3/4 teaspoons of active dry or instant yeast (about 1 1/2 packages, 3/8 ounces or 11 grams)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 5 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 2 cups bread flour
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading/rolling
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in water; set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.
- Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
- Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
- Deflate the dough, and separate into four smaller balls of dough. Working with one ball at a time, section the ball into three even smaller balls. Roll each smaller ball into ropes. Place the ropes next to each other, and begin braiding. Take the furthest rope on the right and place it over the middle strand. Move the left strand over and on top of the right strand. Take the middle strand and place it on top of the left. Repeat the process until the braid is complete. Pinch both ends of dough before moving the loaf to a sheet pan lined with either parchment or silicone liners. Repeat the process with the remaining balls of dough.
- Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Cover and let rise another hour.
- If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again.
- Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack before devouring in day(s)
Challah Bread recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen