Well, this has been my most prolific season on the blog yet! 2 posts in 1 month! Phew! Now that I finally have a bit more free time its so wonderful to have time to both cook and post on the blog. I’ve been in Seattle for the past 3 weeks and I have to say, this is a GREAT food city! Though I’ve been doing a lot of cooking at home and going to friends’ houses for meals, I have partaken in some amazing Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and Hawaiian foods, among others. I also recently discovered Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Jerusalem and am plotting some flagrant plagarism that will hopefully appear on the blog in the near future after Hanukkah or my birthday (hint hint mom!) Well, I could easily digress further, but I’m going to yoga soon… god its nice to have free time! So without further a do I bring you: Challah! I know, I’m really outdoing my Jew-ness lately. I will say that as a total, utter and complete non-baker, including non-bread maker, this was actually not that difficult. Enjoy!
Makes 2 challas
1 1/2 packets yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins or chopped apple per challah
1. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tbsp of the sugar in 1 3/4 cups warm water in a large bowl. Whisk the oil into the bowl, then whisk 4 eggs in one at a time, followed by the rest of the sugar and the salt. Add the flour a little bit at a time until the dough holds together.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth and uniform. Put it into a large oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. Punch it down, cover it again, and let it rise for another half an hour.
3. Knead in the apple or raisins if you are using them at this point.
4. Time to braid! Divide to dough into 2 to make 2 loaves. With each ball, divide into 4 smaller balls and roll them out into ~1.5-2 in strands. Press the ends of the 4 strands together and lay them out straight. Rather than explain in detail how to braid with 4, just take a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TOKt18P7z4. Its not exactly how I personally did it, but it looks great and is easier than me trying to verbalize how to do it! Once braided I like to tuck the ends under for maximum attractiveness.
5. Turn on the oven to 375. Beat the 5th egg and paint the challas with it. Let them rise another hour at this point. (You can also freeze them before this final rising. If you do so, take them out of the freezer 5 hours before baking.)
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the tops are a nice golden brown. Yum!