i am NOT writing this post because i want to discourage the other thread(s). in fact, i am thoroughly enjoying reading all of your well-reasoned points!
but, as a pre-weekend post, i thought i would inject some levity (that’s a pun- you’ll see in a second. but wait for it…) into the blog.
here, folks, is my most favorite awesome bread recipe. i made a batch of this last night, and in addition to giving us several loaves to freeze, we all had fresh hot rolls with butter last night. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…
Challah (I’ve also seen this called Jewish Egg Bread, and they have it premade in walmart for french toast. ok- to each his own 🙂 )
3-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (i put this on the bottom of the bowl so it won’t come into direct contact with the yeast, because i think salt kills yeast. sugar, on the other hand, is a yeast’s best friend)
1 bag bread flour (it calls for a 6 pound bag- i use whatever the standard size is and then add more flour as needed) (also, i have tried this with regular flour and it is fine)
2-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 packets dry yeast or 3 generous tablespoons dry yeast (you don’t need to proof it)
4 egg yolks (i save the whites to brush on top of the bread before i bake it)
6 cups warm water (about the temperature you would do for a baby’s bath. if you make it too hot, it will kill the yeast)
3/4 cup oil (i use coconut oil, but you can use any. probably best to not use olive oil unless you specifically want that flavor in your bread…)
optional- poppy seeds or sesame seeds (we use neither cuz it grosses out my kids, but lots of people *must* have them 🙂 )
dump everything into a super large bowl (remember that the dough will need room to expand) (i got a giant bowl at the dollar store…). mix it all together with your hands and then knead for 20 minutes, and put some muscle into it. this will make for a lighter, fluffier loaf. don’t skimp on the time; i promise you it will be worth it! during this step, you will repeatedly need to add flour to keep the dough from being too sticky. too much flour will result in dry bread, but i’ve never had that happen in real life. remember, this dough needs to be able to get manhandled, so flour it to the point of not sticking to your hands as you knead.
after the 20 minutes, put a bit of oil on top of the dough, which should now be satiny and springy to the touch. smear the oil around, then turn the dough upside down and do the same- this will prevent it from sticking to the bowl as it rises. cover it (saran wrap is best, but you can also use tin foil, and i know some people use a towel). let it rise in a warmish place (i put it on the counter near my oven, or if it’s a really chilly day, i might set it on top of my oven while i do other baking).
after about an hour- it should be roughly (very roughly, so don’t panic) doubled in size. punch it down, knead it for like 30 seconds, make sure it is still oily, and then cover it and let it rise again. when you are sick of waiting (for us this about 1/2 an hour)- take the dough out and put it on a floured board (we have a very large cutting board, but i’ve seen plenty of people who do this on a clean and lightly floured tabletop). shape it however you want (it is traditional to braid it). we usually get about 5 loaves from this recipe, but you can obviously make yours bigger or smaller according to your needs. put it in a lightly oiled baking pan, or on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. brush the eggs whites on top, and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes (less for smaller loaves, longer for larger loaves. make sure you leave room for the bread to expand as it bakes, so don’t have the oven shelves too close together or put the top rack too near the top of the oven. we bake in several batches, because my oven won’t fit more than 2 loaves at a time. the bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when you knock on the loaf. if it sounds like a dull thud, you might want to let it make for a bit longer.
and that’s it! let it cool on a rack, if you have one. i used to use the extra oven rack i took out to make space. viola- improvised cooling rack! if you cut into it when it’s too hot, it will fall apart a bit, so if looks matter to you, wait until it’s thoroughly cool.
you can also use this dough for yeast cake recipes- with cinnamon sugar or cocoa and sugar filling. in that case, you would roll out some of the dough into a rough rectangle, brush with oil, melted butter, or melted margarine- sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon sugar or the cocoa and sugar, roll it up and bake it.
oh gosh, my mouth is watering… guess what we’re gonna make on sunday????????
will power, will power…
enjoy the bread and enjoy the weekend!