Recipe: Traditional challah
The Jewish Sabbath meal is traditionally graced with challah – a braided egg bread. For the Jewish New Year, the challah is shaped into a crown, with the addition of raisins as an extra guarantee of a special and lucky year.
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 pkg active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup liquid honey
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup butter, melted, or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 In large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. With wooden spoon, stir in 3 cups (750 mL) of the flour and salt; stir in honey, eggs, egg yolks and butter until soft sticky dough forms.
2 Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead, adding as much of the remaining flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3 Line large rimless baking sheet with parchment paper or grease; set aside.
4 Punch down dough; knead in raisins. Cover with clean tea towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
5 TO MAKE BRAID: Divide dough into quarters; roll each into 18-inch (45 cm) rope. Place ropes side by side on prepared pan; pinch together at 1 end. With pinched opposite you, start at pinched end. *Move second rope from left over rope on right. Move far right rope over 2 ropes on left. Move far left rope over 2 ropes on right. Repeat from * until braid is complete; tuck ends under braid and pinch to seal.
6 TO MAKE CROWN: Roll out dough into 30-inch (76 cm) rope. Holding 1 end in place, wind remaining rope around end to form fairly tight spiral that is slightly higher in centre. Transfer to prepared pan.
7 Cover braid or crown loaf with damp clean tea towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
8 TOPPING: Stir egg yolk with 1 tsp (5 mL) water; brush lightly over dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to rack; let cool.
A four-rope braid gives this glossy egg bread a beautiful elegance. Start by securely pinching the ends together. Weave the ropes as described, using the step photos as a guide. Weave the ropes firmly together, without stretching, so there are no gaps between the twists.
Bread Machine Variation (dough only): Replace active dry yeast with quick-rising (instant) dry yeast. Into pan of 2-lb (1 kg) bread machine, add (in order) water, honey, sugar, butter, eggs, egg yolks, salt, all of the flour and yeast. Choose dough setting. When complete, remove from pan. Knead in raisins; cover with clean tea towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Shape and bake as directed.
Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices.
PER SLICE: about 189 cal, 5 g pro, 5 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 31 g carb, 1 g fibre, 69 mg chol, 175 mg sodium. % RDI: 2% calcium, 12% iron, 5% vit A, 35% folate.
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Excerpted from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book by Elizabeth Baird & The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. Copyright © 2008. Excerpted by permission of Transcontinental Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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