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Bringing Challah Back: New Recipe!

Try this easy-to-make recipe and bring this Friday night tradition back into your home with mouth-watering challah.
By: Lisa Goldman
Published: June 24th, 2011 in Culture » Food » Interviews
Fresh from the oven.Pic: NILL

It’s Friday, and if you haven’t yet ordered a hot-out-of-the-oven, beautifully braided challah for Shabbat, don’t fret. There’s still time to add a couple of sweet doughy loaves to your table tonight -- you can bake your own.

The traditions of growing up in a household that smelled of freshly baked bread on Fridays and watching your Bubby roll out challah dough for the New Year are some that many families pass down through the generations. But if you’re like my family and ordered your special challahs from local bakeries and never attempted making the dense egg bread, it’s time to consider bringing back that Friday (or holiday) ritual.

Admittedly, I love to bake. Truthfully, it’s not my forte -- flour, baking soda, yeast and eggs don’t flow through my veins. So when I was invited by Two Moms Baked Goods in Toronto to learn to make challah from scratch, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. (Pun intended.)

Two Moms Baked Goods, launched in the fall of 2007, is the only 100% nut-free and kosher bakery in the Greater Toronto Area. Started by two local moms, Caroline Davis and Karen Freilich-Miller, the bakery offers dozens of scrumptious desserts (think brownies, blondies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, tarts, pies, loafs and cookies) in a variety of flavours. Their snacks are completely safe for kids to schlep to school and camp and they even offer baking classes and birthday parties on-site in their nut-free facility. (They’re located at 970 Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto.) But perhaps the most mouth-watering baked goods coming out of their ovens are their (parve) challahs.

Challah isn’t difficult to make – it’s time-consuming and requires patience, but it’s something that even the youngest chef in the house will enjoy assisting with. While there are no shortage of challah recipes on the Internet, what makes their bread so delicious are the tweaks to their perfected recipe. “We use five eggs instead of the traditional three to get a denser bread,” Davis explains. Their other tip: Add honey for sweeter, moist loaves. (See their simple-to-follow recipe below.)

While you can order your challahs prebaked from the store (they make plain, cinnamon and even chocolate challah -- all incredibly yummy), there’s nothing like getting your hands in your own dough (or, if you're tight on time, ordering ready-made dough) and popping it into your oven. You’ll know it’s finished baking when the top is golden, your kitchen smells heavenly and there’s a puddle of drool on your Shabbat table.

Two Moms Baked Goods Challah Recipe
Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup sugar
Honey (optional)


5 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
7 1/2 cups (about) all-purpose flour

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Directions

1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in large glass measuring cup and stir until yeast dissolves. Let yeast mixture stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat 5 eggs until blended. Add oil, salt and 3/4 cup sugar and beat until pale yellow and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Beat in 2/3 cup warm water. Add yeast mixture and beat until blended. Remove whisk and fit mixer with dough hook. Add enough flour 1 cup at a time to form smooth dough, beating well after each addition. Beat on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding flour by tablespoonfuls if sticky. Turn out onto floured surface and knead 2 minutes.

3. Lightly oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, then with clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

4. Punch down dough. Cover with plastic and clean kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes.

5. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 9-inch-long rope. Braid 3 ropes together pinch ends together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, forming 2 braids. Place each braid on baking sheet. Cover with towel . Let rise in warm area until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk yolk with 1 tablespoon water to blend. Brush dough with egg mixture. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer loaves to rack and cool completely.

Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.

Visit www.twomomsbakedgoods.com for details. 

Related articles: Jewish food, Challah, Shabbat food, Challah making, bread making, Challah braiding, Two Moms Baked Goods
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