Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sharing a recipe

Since I started making challah just a few months ago, I have really been enjoying the process of making, shaping, baking, and enjoying the challah. Recently, my friend Arica has been on a quest to find a good challah recipe and she requested from her readers to send in their recipes for her to try. Last week, she tried my recipe, and she liked it! I thought if she did, you might too, so I am posting the recipe. To give credit where it's due, this is an adaptation of Lori's recipe for the bread machine, which uses all egg yolks, no whites. In turn an adaptation of another recipe, hers is an absolutely delicious challah, which is rich and yellow in color and very cake-like. Thoroughly addictive. My version is whiter and slightly lighter in texture, and more suited to spreading chummus or chatzilim on top, which is important in this house. One more caveat: I use fresh granulated yeast and dough conditioner in the dough, but you can do just fine with dry yeast.


1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
50 gram bag of fresh granulated yeast (Shimrit in Israel or equivalent in fresh compressed yeast) or 4 teaspoons dry yeast
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon oil
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
about 7 cups flour
50 gram bag meshaper afiyah משפר אפייה(dough conditioner - optional)
1 whole egg +1 tablespoon water, beaten together, to glaze
Combine the water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and yeast in the mixer bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, until it is foamy. If this doesn't happen, your yeast may be past its prime. Then add in the remaining sugar, oil, salt, eggs and yolk, and about 4 cups of flour, and the dough conditioner, if you are using it. Use the dough hook to mix it all together. Add the remaining flour, mix in well, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and let the machine knead for several minutes. At this point, I knead the dough by hand on a floured surface, because I think it is good for the texture and for my mental health. Add flour as needed. When the dough has a smooth, elastic texture, and when you poke it with a finger and the indentation bounces back, it is ready to rise. Place the dough in a greased bowl - make sure it is large enough to accomodate the rising - and turn it to get all sides greased. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise (you can turn the oven on for a minute until it is just warm inside, then turn it off and leave the bowl in there, but don't forget it's there and preheat the oven for something else. That will just make an ugly mess and a waste of your effort. I speak from experience.) When it has doubled in size, divide the dough as desired - I find that this recipe makes three good size challahs - and shape. If you are ambitious, the purple Lubavitch cookbook (Spice and Spirit) has a relatively easy to follow set of instructions and diagrams for braiding with six strands. There are also a plethora of instructional videos on line - take your pick. I like the shape that results, so that is the way I braid. Place the shaped dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, if you choose, and let them rise for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the loaves with the egg beaten with water and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden on top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a cooling rack, so it does not get soggy.
One note: I use a double insulated cookie sheet, and bake the loaves in the bottom third of the oven. You may have to work out this part of the art and science of baking challah all on your own.

Most important, enjoy the process - it doesn't matter what they look like, as long as you have a good time (funny advice from a compulsive perfectionist!).
Good luck, and enjoy!



Anonymous said...

Where do you get meshaper afiya? Is this only available in Israel? And what is in it?
Beautiful challot, btw . . .

Dvora said...

Hi, pragmaticattic. Thanks for the compliment. Love your blog! We share a similar cooking sensibility - I have made quite a few of the same recipes. Anyway, I think meshaper afiya is called dough improver or dough enhancer or dough conditioner in the US. King ARthur flour seems to make a version of it, and I also found a recipe including lecithin granules, ginger, and Vitamin C powder. The one here includes some scary sounding ingredients, as well as a couple I cannot translate, but includes sugar, corn starch, soy flour, and Vitamin C. I like it to make the dough a little easier to work with, but resting it might do just as well. Also, I have friend who prefers the taste without it.
BTW, I have changed to a slightly different recipe (a little easier, with a slightly different mixing method). If it works well again this week, I will post about it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dvora! Very interesting . . .
So you have a new mixing method? Hmm, that does sound intriguing. I will have to check back. You could also share your new challah method with Yeastpotting. They put up links to bread recipes every Friday--you just have to send Susan at Wild Yeast the info via her blog.

If you like the pictures you see here but would love to see more updated photos, make sure to check out our Facebook page! In the meantime, we will do our best to keep the blog a little more current.