Thursday, September 12, 2013

Honey Challah Bread

This is the good stuff.  Is there anything better than freshly baked bread?  No, there is not.  It's frightening how much bread I can consume when it's fresh out of the oven.  Would I gross you out if I said half a loaf?  Ok, then I won't say it.  It never happened.  
Except it did.  It soooooo did!  Now I can't say I'm a challah expert by any means so is it supposed to taste a little like Hawaiian Bread?  Cuz this did.  And it was ah-mah-zing.  Probz why I ate half a loaf?  Oh right, it never happened.  

Do not be intimidated by this bread either.  It really only requires two things: patience and some solid braiding skills.  There's nothing terrible complex going on.  All the delicious ingredients do all the work.  I promise.  Bread is not always my forte (I don't even wanna discuss my bagel attempt) but I managed to pull this off.  Doesn't make up for my jacked up bagels though... Still in therapy for that.  
And, because I like to take everything a step too far, pretty sure this stuff would be fantastic if you sprinkled some cinnamon sugar over the dough before baking.  And then slathered a slice in butter.  And then sprinkled more cinnamon sugar.  JUST AN IDEA.    

Here's the recipe!

Honey Challah Bread
makes 2 loaves

1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees) 
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup honey
8 tablespoon butter, softened
3 eggs
2 teaspoons salt 
5 1/2 cups flour (or more if necessary)
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

1.  Lightly oil a medium bowl and line a large baking sheet with silicon mat or parchment paper and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, put warm water in the bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast.  Stir briefly to combine and allow to sit for 5 minutes until foamy.  
2.  Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, honey, butter, eggs, salt and flour.  Start on the lowest speed to gently combine ingredients.  Once combined, adjust to medium speed and mix for 5 minutes.  Dough will become smooth and elastic-y and begin pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  If you think your dough is too wet, you can slowly incorporate more flour, a little at a time, until just right.  This dough should be fairly wet and sticky so don't add too much flour.  Turn dough onto a lightly four surface and knead about 5-7 times.  Place into a oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with a damp cloth.  Allow dough to rise in a warm place (I put mine in an OFF oven) until doubled in size, about 2 hours.  
3.  Once risen, gently punch down the dough and turn onto floured surface.  Divide dough into 6 equal pieces (3 for each loaf).  Roll pieces into a log, roughly 12 inches in length.  Pinch the ends of 3 pieces together to start your braid and begin braiding the length of the logs.  Pinch the ends to seal.  I found this easiest to do right on my lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining three logs.  Cover baking sheet with a damp cloth and allow loaves to rise again, doubling in size, about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
4.  Once risen again, brush liberally with egg wash.  Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool on baking sheet for 10 mins before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.  Slice and eat! 

**This recipe makes 2 MASSIVE loaves.  I'd assume you can actually use it to make 3 smaller loaves by dividing dough into 9 sections before braiding (though I haven't done this myself). 

Recipe barely adapted from Baking and Creating with Avril  

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