Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Last week I was flipping through a cookbook I received at a White Elephant gift exchanged about 3 years ago, for the first time ever. It's called A Taste of Oregon and I was hoping to find something new to bake. When I stumbled across the Challah bread and realized I had all of the ingredients, I knew I had to try it.

Ben + I first had Challah bread when we lived near the University of Oregon and had walked down to a local natural foods market called Sundance. I grew up going there with my grandpa, who had lived in the home we were then renting from my parents. We really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd try recreating this bread on my own.

The ingredients:

2 packages dry yeast (approx. 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup very warm water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cold water
poppy seeds (optional)

I halved the recipe because I only had 2 eggs instead of the 3 it calls for, which worked out to 2 loaves instead of the 3 the recipe usually yields. I have a feeling that it would have made 3 very large loaves of bread! I'll explain the recipe with the full amount of ingredients though.

I started the first round of mixing up the dough to let it rise while Malakai napped.

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup very warm water, stirring in sugar to speed the yeast reaction. Let stand until bubbly. I wasn't sure what "bubbly" would look like because this was my first time working with yeast {crazy, right?} but I'd liken it to seafoam. haha.

Pour oil and 1 1/2 cups water into a large bowl. Add eggs, reserving 1 yolk for the top of the bread. Add salt also, mix well.

Add yeast mixture to the oil mixture. Stir in 4 cups of flour, then 3 more cups. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth + elastic, about 5 minutes.

I hate this part...I've never enjoyed dough sticking to my hands. This dough is super sticky. I tried adding more flour to my hands, which didn't help. I rubbed a little olive oil on hands and that did the trick. I was able to knead the dough without the frustration of half of it sticking to my fingers.

Place in a greased bowl, turning over to grease top. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour. I gave mine about 90 minutes. I used 30 minutes of this to clean up the mess I had made.

I had used a wooden cutting board to knead the dough, needless to say it was a sticky mess when I was done. I used a plastic spatula {the kind for flipping pancakes, not the rubber kind} and scraped it all off. New uses for ordinary things, love it!

Next, punch down the dough , divide into 9 pieces {I did 6 since I made a smaller amount}. Roll pieces into 8-10 inch ropes. I did this part on a dough mat that I remembered I had as I was cleaning up the wooden cutting board...convenient, right?

Braid together 3 ropes to form 1 loaf. Repeat to form the other loaves and place on cookie sheets, allowing room to double. Mix the reserved egg yoke with 1 Tablespoon cold water and brush over loaves.

This is where I had to find another new use for something else. I don't own a pastry brush, but my husband's BBQ kit he got for our wedding {which was in 2007...and he just opened it...} had this!

It was interesting to use because it has the world's longest handle. Just in case you need to brush marinade on something from across the room? I don't know... but it worked just fine. 

Next, sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired, and set in a warm place. I didn't have poppy seeds, but I sprinkled half a loaf with coarse sea salt, just as an experiment. 

Cover lightly, to rise again, for about another hour. I set it out to do this while I left to run errands with Malakai. Errands that ended up taking 2 and a half hours. whoopsie. Luckily the bread hadn't taken over too much of my kitchen and Ben put it in the oven when he beat me home. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes {which I think was waaay too long, I would check at 30 minutes}. Loaves should sound hollow when tapped and look lightly browned. Turn out onto racks to cool. I don't have racks...so I let them cool on the cookie sheet. They only stuck a little bit.

The pieces with salt reminded me of a pretzel, but the flaky consistency of challah is more like a croissant. I think if I had taken them out sooner they would have been perfect + moist. Not too bad for my first time baking challah...actually, my first time baking any kind of bread!

Sadly, it was pretty stale by the next day. Fortunately, I found a good tip here, that Challah makes great french toast. Unfortunately, Ben hates french toast. More for me!

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it goes!


  1. This looks delicious. Challah is my favorite bread, I will have to try this out! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Looks super yummy - and how lucky are you to have a hubby who popped it in the oven for you!!

    Though I can't believe he doesn't like French Toast - I thought everyone liked French Toast...does Malakai like it? It's one of the boys favourites.
    Amber :)


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