I can think of no better way to start this blog than with a celebratory bread. I have always had a deep appreciation and love of traditional Jewish food. I am not sure, if it’s from visiting deli’s in LA when I was kid or sharing food with numerous Jewish friends growing up, but it runs deep in my veins. From brisket to pastrami to kugel, I love it all.
The challah was one of the first breads I taught myself to bake. It might seem intimidating, but if you’ve baked a white bread it’s really not too many steps beyond that. I encourage every home baker to try it. It’s the perfect bread to share with friends and family, or in my case to be eaten by my staff.
- 3c. all purpose unbleached flour
- 1 large russet potato peeled and mashed
- 2tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4c. canola oil (or any flavorless oil)
- 1tbsp. honey
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 1c. all purpose unbleached flour
- 1c. potato water
- 2tsp. yeast
- 1 reserved egg white
- 1/2tsp. sugar
- 1tbsp. water
- Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
Step 1. Peel and dice the potato. Then boil until soft enough to mash. Reserve 1 cup of the water from the boil for the sponge.
Step 2. Wait the potato water to cool to about 105 degrees or about 10-15 minutes. Mix all the ingredients for the sponge in a medium bowl. Let sit until it forms bubbles, approximately 45 minutes.
Step 3. In small bowl combine 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk (save the white for the wash), oil, and honey- set aside. In a large bowl combine the rest of the dough ingredients. Add the sponge and the egg mixture to the dry ingredients to combine. If using a stand mixer, use a dough hook attachment and set to a medium speed- run for 8-10 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky. I knead by hand. I recommend kneading the dough on a well-floured surface for about 10 minutes. The dough should feel silky and smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for about 90 minutes or until its doubled in size.
Step 4. Now it’s time to braid the dough. I recommend this video from King Arthur flour. I used a 6-piece braid as described in the video.
I put this additional photo above to show that even if your strands are rolled uneven, you can braid a pretty bread.
Step 5. After the loaf is braided place it on a cookie sheet. Either use a silicon mat or well oil parchment paper, so the loaf will not stick to the sheet. Prepare the wash and brush the bread with a light layer. Save the rest of the wash. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Step 6. Pre-heat oven to 375. Before placing in the over remove plastic wrap and cover with an additional layer of wash. Sprinkle with the everything seasoning and place in oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes until brown on top and bread sounds hollow. I recommend checking at 25 minutes and if browning too fast tent with aluminum foil for the rest of the bake. Let cool and eat warm with lots butter.