Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Munchies

My co-worker recently said to me, "oh, you really do love to bake!"  
And my response, surprisingly, was-not really.  
However, I definitely enjoy seeing people enjoy what I cook and bake.  In this day in age where almost everything can be pre-packaged and bought at the store-"homemaking" really shows that extra TLC.

On Thursday night, after having rushed to do the Sabbath grocery shopping, Dovy asked me, "oh, you bought raisin challah because I love it?"
The truth was, I had actually forgotten to get a raisin challah. 
And that, is usually how I end up with a new baking/cooking gig.  
It just...happens.  

The other day I was at work, and someone was talking about the best chocolate cake ever.  
Well, I then offered to make my "best" chocolate cake.  
So-I'll be taking my chocolate cake to work soon.  

Anyway, I couldn't resist my 3 year old's request for raisin challah, and I just imagined his surprise and delight Friday night when he was able to have his raisin challah.  
So I began searching for a quick and easy challah recipe.  

I used to make challah every Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning, but with kids and a job, it just isn't happening anymore.  My challah making has been cut down to once a year around the major holidays; but that recipe is not a quick and easy one!

I scoured all my cookbooks, and looked at multiple on-line recipes, before I finally settled on this one.  I decided it was the one for a few reasons:  it didn't require quick-rise yeast, it gave the flour measurement in cups and not pounds, and it was a one-bowl recipe.    

Now, making bread from scratch with a mixer or by hand can be very intimidating.  However, I can guarantee a perfect loaf if you follow these tips.
1.  Make sure your yeast is fresh.  Either buy new individual packets, or keep a bag of yeast in the freezer.
2.  Most bread recipes begin with what is known as the sponge.  That is when a little bit of water and the yeast are mixed together to get the yeast to activate.  A lot of recipes add some sugar to this part.   If you do not notice after about 10 minutes that your yeast is bubbling, then it is not fresh.  
3.  The water that you use to mix with the yeast initially should not be too hot-otherwise it will kill it.  I would say that freezing cold water is not ideal either, lukewarm is perfect.  
4.  When it comes time for the dough to rise, I find that creating a warm environment helps!  I will run my oven by this point and will place the bowl near the oven.

Really, if you've been wanting to attempt challah, you should go for it!

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 T active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 T vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 T salt
8 cups flour 

 In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.
Because I wanted to make sure my yeast was active, I put the yeast and water into a small bowl and added 1 T of sugar.  Once I saw the bubbling, I poured it into the mixing bowl and proceeded as the recipe states.  

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
I do not knead the dough.  I will add flour as needed-just enough to keep it from sticking to my hands.  I was able to get 4 challahs out of this recipe.  Each of the 4 mounds of dough are then divided into three-so a total of 12 sections.  

Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.Some toppings that people enjoy are poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or even some cinnamon and sugar.  

 Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.
I've found that my challah does not usually need the full cook time.  When the top is brown and you can see between the individual sections of the braid that the bread is beginning to pull apart-it is done.  

*If you wish to add raisins, use the desired amount and soak in water for about 30 minutes before mixing it in as the last ingredient.  



  1. Me no like raisin

  2. And what was Dovy's comment when he got raisin challah for shabbos dinner?

  3. Me like Bubby cake and Bubby frosting!


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