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When the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York, a friend on the front lines messaged me saying she had a craving for challah. I surprisingly had never made it, perhaps relying on the seemingly never-ending supply available at most local bakeries. I immediately got to work, and even though my first loaves were a little wonky, my friend gladly accepted them in exchange for some disposable masks and gloves. I typically make a 3-strand braid version, but this time I opted for a 4-strand braided round. If you’re really up for the challenge, you can try the 6-strand braid as well. But any way you braid it, it will be a tasty, impressive enriched, soft dough with a lovely thin crust thanks to an egg wash before it goes in the oven. If you need help understanding how to braid, I recommend watching the videos of Jamie Geller who can walk you through the options.

Makes 1 braided loaf

Ingredients


  • ¾ cup (177 grams) water, 110-120˚F
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 (150 grams) large eggs, divided
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable
  • 3 1/4 – 3 3/4 cups (423 – 488 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions


Make the Challah:

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy.
  2. Add 2 of the eggs and the oil to the yeast mixture and mix until just combined, and then add about 2 ½ cups of the flour and the salt.
  3. Using the dough hook attachment on medium-low speed, mix until the dough starts to come together, stopping the machine to scrap down the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add a few more tablespoons of the flour, increase the speed to medium and mix for 6 to 8 minutes, adding flour towards the end to make sure the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Only add enough for the dough to pull away, but it is still slightly tacky.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to let the dough rise to double in size, about 1 to 1 ½
  6. Punch down the dough lightly to release some of the gas and divide into equal pieces according to which braid you decide to make (3, 4 or 6 strands). On a lightly floured surface, roll each strand out to 16 to 20 inches in length and braid accordingly. Place the loaf on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, beat the remaining egg to create an egg wash and brush lightly all over the bread, making sure to get the sides as well. Cover loosely with a cotton towel or oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes to an hour or until almost doubled.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Bake for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown, and the internal temperature reaches 190˚F. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  9. To serve, use a serrated knife to slice. Challah is best eaten the day of but can be stored wrapped in plastic at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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AnnMarie Mattilahttps://pastryathome.com
AnnMarie Mattila is a writer for Pastry Arts Magazine, as well as a freelance baker and pastry chef in New York. She has a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University and is also a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education.

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