Challah is one of my favourite egg breads ~ the aroma of the loaves baking is sublime, and the rich dough is incredibly tender whith just a hint of sweetness! With cold butter, and perhaps some wild berry preserves, I could easily eat a whole loaf when it’s still warm from the oven (I actually did this a few years ago!). But I’d never tried baking one until last year. After researching recipes for this delicious Jewish specialty in my cookbooks and on the web, I had chosen the recipe I’d found in the Fleischmann’s Yeast “Best Ever Breads”cookbook (using Fleischmann’s traditional active dry yeast). The proportion of butter and eggs seemed the most promising for what I wanted to achieve.
I have to admit that I was very pleased with the results. The baked loaves looked gorgeous, and had a wonderful flavour and texture. But the bread just wasn’t as rich tasting ~ and the dough not as golden ~ as I’d hoped! So I went back to my research, but still could not find a recipe that seemed better. Since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided I’d have to create my own recipe!
The result was, to say the least, fabulous! But this assessment is not only my own! Several friends and family members, including my sister, who are excellent bakers and foodies, all agreed. My parents are probably the most critical bread eaters I know, and for good cause! One of my aunts on my mother’s side and my grandmother on my father’s side made the most exquisite breads! I’ve had bread that tasted as good as my aunt’s, but never tasted better, even in Europe where I lived for 21 years! And my parent’s verdict was also that my recipe for challah produced the best egg bread they had ever tasted.
The bread cooks to a gorgeous golden brown, and the dough is wonderfully tender, and has the colour of pale yellow beaten eggs. The aroma while it’s baking and once it’s out of the oven is quite simply impossible to resist! Perfection! I had several pieces of it while it was warm, with cold butter and some of my golden amber home-made caramel ~ sheer delight!
After having tasted literally dozens upon dozens of challahs in Montreal, England, and New York, only one baker I knew of made a richer tasting loaf that was as lovely in texture ~ and I’ve tasted hundreds of different Challah!!! He is based in London, in Mill Hill East, where I lived for several years. But now, to my delight, I can say I have created a challah recipe that beats his hands down ! I do hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think ♥
Oh, and I must also tell you that the second time I baked some of this bread, I had an extra yolk, so I added that as well (i.e. for a total of 4 large eggs and 5 large egg yolks). Oh my! It was almost like brioche, but I liked this more ♥
|20 ml||Granulated sugar|
|250 ml||Warm water (38C)|
|30 ml||Active dry yeast|
|150ml||Liquid manuka or other honey|
|4 large||Eggs, room temperature|
|4 large||Egg yolks, room temperature||Lightly beat eggs with yolks.|
|150 g||Butter, melted|
|1,750 l||All-purpose flour|
|350 ml||Golden raisins (optional)|
|1||Large egg yolk, lightly beaten|
|30 ml||Poppy seeds or sesame seeds|
NB: I used a powerful KitchenAid® mixer to make this dough, but any heavy duty mixer can be used, or prepare it according to the traditional method for making bread which I describe in detail in my How-to section on making great bread.
NB: For the following steps always start at the “stir” setting and never use a setting higher than 2.
The following technique for making beautiful, double braided loaves is from the Fleischmann’s Yeast cookbook, but you can shape the dough into any shapes you prefer, including individual loaves.
Alternatively, make a single 4-strand braid like so: