So, it started SNOWING here in Chicago. In the beginning of November. Whatever.
Either way, I’m excited to stay inside tonight and eat this amazing bread. I’ve been super busy this week but really wanted some of this goodness so I made a small batch of dough.
There is a custom to use 5 pounds of flour when making challah but that requires more time, which as a dietetic intern commuting two hours daily, I don’t usually have.
When I do make five pounds, I am lucky enough to have a bunch of bread in my freezer for a while.
I actually started making challah when I was still in middle school and have gotten better at it after all this time. Of course when I started, I used white bread flour but times have definitely changed since then, friends!
I read about a method called sponging on http://www.aish.com a while back and it has been LIFE changing. It allows the dough to become light and fluffy with the texture like white bread. It does require some extra rising time but remember , if you make five pounds, you’ll have some left in your freezer for a while.
Sponging works like this:
Make your dough like you usually do except only add half the flour. Allow the dough to rest for 30-60 minutes and then add the rest of the flour.
The bran portion of the whole grain is what weighs down the texture and this method allows the dough to rise once without all the “baggage.”
I’m posting the recipe with measurements for five pounds of flour but feel free to quarter it, halve it, or if you’re very brave, double or triple it! 😉
Have you made challah before? Let me know in the comments!
Cheers to the weekend!
• 4 Tablespoons dry yeast
• 1 Tablespoon honey, agave or sugar
• 5 1/2 cups warm water
• 4 large eggs
• ¾ cup oil (canola, preferred)
•1 cup sugar (or more, if you like it sweeter)
• 5 pounds (~18 cups) white whole wheat flour (King Arthur and Trader Joe’s both have great flours)
• 3 tablespoons table salt
•1 large egg, beaten
• Toppings as desired, I like Everything Bagel spice or cinnamon
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 Tablespoon agave in 5 1/2 cups water. Wait 5-10 minutes, or until you see bubbles. (This ensures the yeast is active). If not, start with fresh yeast, water and sweetener.
2. Add 4 eggs, sugar, and oil to yeast mixture and mix.
3. Add half of the flour (you don’t need to measure; just approximate half) with the salt to the bowl and mix.
4. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and allow to rest in warm location for 30 to 60 minutes.
5. Add remaining flour and knead until smooth dough is formed. Dough may be sticky, this is good as the challah will be moister.
6. Allow dough to rise for 1-1/2- 2 hours, or until double in size.
7. Optional: You can punch down the dough and allow it to rise for one more hour.
8. Punch down dough and separate challah with a blessing, if observing.
9. Divide dough into 6-8 parts, depending on how big you want the challahs.
10. Braid the loaves or rolls as you like.
11. Placed braided loaves or rolls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and allow to rise for 30 minutes before baking.
12. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
13. Glaze challah with beaten egg and top with toppings as desired.
14. Place challah in the oven for 15 minutes (without opening the door during this time!)
15. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake challah for 20 more minutes, or until lightly golden-brown.
16. Cool challahs on cooling racks.
17. You can freeze the extra challahs for several weeks in plastic bags.