EGG BREAD (CHALLAH)
Challah (haa.luh) commonly called egg bread is a bread rich in eggs and slightly on the sweeter side. Traditionally served during the Jewish Sabbath, it has a dark and shiny crust and yet makes a very light and tender bite.
This recipe uses all purpose flour and just enough eggs to ensure that the bread does not come across as too eggy. While some recipes for egg bread use milk in order to improve on the richness of the bread, this recipe is dairy free just like the traditional challah recipe and uses vegetable oil over butter.
In this recipe, i chose to use a double braid with one piece of dough being slightly smaller than the other and then stacking said loaf on the larger loaf to allow for both loaves to bake into one and give the challah bread the lift it needs.
This recipe makes one loaf and the way I see it, even if your loaf doesn't come out looking quite right, it will still taste rather good and there is no such thing as letting a goof loaf of bread go to waste.
FOR THE DOUGH
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs and one egg yolk
3 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp rapid or instant rise yeast (one envelope)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 egg white
2 Tbsp water
1. Mix the water, oil, eggs and egg yolk until properly incorporated and set aside. In a stand mixer pour in 3 cups of flour, salt, yeast and sugar and using a dough hook mix until properly incorporated; with mixer set on low speed, pour in the wet ingredients and beat on low speed for about 2 minutes until the dough comes together.
2. Once flour is incorporated, increase the speed to medium low and knead the dough till it is elastic, smooth and comes off the side of the bowl yet sticks to the bottom. This should take about 8 minutes and if the dough doesn't come off the sides of the bowl after the first 4 minutes add the half cup of flour 2 tablespoons at a time till the dough clears the sides of the bowl;
3. Put dough on lightly floured surface and knead the dough to form a smooth ball and place in a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, turn dough on to lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 pieces with one piece being larger than the other. Cut each half into three pieces and roll into ropes for the braids; do a three strand braid on both halves and one braid will be smaller than the other;
5. Transfer the larger loaf to your prepared sheet pan and use the egg wash glaze which is one egg and two tablespoons of water to wash the larger loaf, set and secure the smaller loaf on top of the larger loaf. Tuck the ends of under both loaves, cover with greased cling wrap and set in a warm place to rise until the loaf is doubled in size;
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush the rest of the dough with the egg wash and bake on middle rack until golden brown or the temperature on the loaf reads 200 degrees which can take 25 to 40 minutes. Rotate the tray halfway to ensure an even bake and remove from oven letting it rest on the pan for 10 minutes before putting it on a rack to cool completely before serving.
NB: If you are making the dough ahead of time put it in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours, not letting the do dough rise in step 3.
Wishing you all things sweet,