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Smarter Cookie: a blog for cooking, baking and everything in between...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Challah

My parents got me a wonderful present for Hanukkah this year. My mom and I got to attend a class at the Cambridge Culinary Institute. We choose the class "All you Knead (Bread Basics.)" It was such a wonderful time not only to spend the day together but to learn about bread making. We got to choose from a list of breads which one we wanted to attempt. As soon as we both saw challah on the list we knew that would be our bread of choice.


For my mom Challah is a daily occurrence, she eats it every morning for breakfast. For me Challah is a tradition passed from my grandmother to me. Every year my grandmother would make Challah for the high holidays, as she got older she could no longer make the bread, so I decided I would take over the task. The last few years I have been making the Challah, the same recipe that my grandmother made. I was never happy with how the bread came out. So I was really excited to learn about the bread, learn how to knead correctly and be able to make really good Challah for my family.


Challah

2 scant tbsp dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tsp salt
6 tbsp honey
1 cup hot potato water
1 cup mashed potatoes
6-7 cups all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

1 egg
1 egg white
2 tbsp milk

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, stir in the sugar to allow to activate. While the yeast is growing you should boil your peeled potatoes until soft. Drain the potatoes remembering to keep 1 cup of the potato water. Mash the potatoes until fairly smooth.


In a small bowl beat butter, eggs, yolks, salt, honey, hot potato water and mashed potatoes. (For the class we did everything by hand but you could easily mix this in a bowl with an electric mixer.) Cool the mixture to lukewarm. Add the yeast to this mixture. Beat in two cups of the flour and stir to combine. Add the rest of the flour until the dough is soft and formed.


Knead on a floured surface until dough is soft and springs back when you touch it. (Add more flour as necessary.)

Place into a well greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap place in a warm, wet environment and allow to double in size. This will take about 30 minute to an hour. Turn onto a floured surface and knead the dough for another five minutes. Slice into 12 even pieces. (You will end up with 2 good size challahs. For the class we made 4 smaller ones.) Roll each of the pieces into strands about 14 inches long, and braid 3 together. You will end up with 4 braids. Place two braids on top of each other (ending up with 2 total challahs.) Make sure to pinch the ends of the braids together.


Allow braids to sit until doubled in size again. Mix your egg wash together and brush over braids. Wait 5 minutes and repeat the wash. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.


The texture of this bread was very nice, however my mom and I agreed that it was a little lacking in the flavor department, so I think we are going to try this recipe again with a little tweaking.


Going to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts was a great way to learn about food and baking and spend time with my mom. I would recommend anyone in the Boston area sign up for a course (or two!)

3 comments:

Jamie said...

I love Challah and I used to make it every Friday... but haven't for quite some time now. Yours is gorgeous and really makes me want to get back to it. Lucky you for the great cooking/baking class!

Lo said...

Oh, how I adore a good loaf of challah... and I'm now craving the bread pudding I always made with the leftovers from a loaf!

comfycook said...

Mashed potatoes in challah. I have never heard of that. It sounds right, though.