This week we’re making Challah! It might look very similar to the typical German bread, Zopf, but Challah actually originated in Eastern European from Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. The difference is in the ingredients. Challah does not contain any dairy while Zopf often contains milk or butter! The braided shape (+ the long instructions!) might make it look like an intimidating recipe to try but in my experience, it is a very forgiving bread, so go ahead & give it a try. Let us know how it turns out!
Happy baking & don’t forget to tag @nickxfritz_munich in your snaps because we love seeing your creations!
Quantity: 2 medium loaves
Time: 45 mins prep, 2 1/2 hrs rising, 20 minutes baking
- 575 g / 4 ½ c flour
- 1 ½ TL / 1 ½ tsp dry yeast
- 55 g / ¼ c sugar
- 2 TL / 2 tsp fine salt
- 145ml / 2/3 c lukewarm water
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks – preserve the whites for the glaze!
- 2 EL / 2 tbsp olive oil
Making the dough:
- Whisk together all the dry ingredients
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, excluding the egg whites.
- Pro tip: make sure the eggs are at room temperature by taking them out of the fridge an hour or so before using them. If the eggs are too cold, it will cause the water to cool down as well resulting in a very stiff dough. The end taste & texture will still be good but it will be difficult to knead / require more kneading & the dough will be less smooth. (aka it will come out looking crumbly like mine this time! I had this problem 😊)
- Once the eggs, oil, & water are homogeneous, pour the mixture into the dry mixture, whisking as you go. The mix will be very dry at this point – whisk for as long as possible but you will need to use your hands to fully combine it. Once fully combined, continue kneading with your hands for ~15-20 minutes. The dough should be smooth & very elastic.
- Create a ball with the dough & place it into an oiled container (I use a butter wrapper to oil a large bowl). Cover it with plastic wrap or if the bowl has a lid, use that, & let it rise at room temperate for 1 ½ hours.
- Pro tip: my kitchen is a little cold in the winter which inhibits the rising process. To make up for this, I place the bowl on our bathroom floor, where we have floor heating, & let it rise there! I recommend doing this – or placing it near a radiator would work too! – if you notice that yeast-based goods do not rise as well in the winter.
Shaping the Challah:
- After 1 ½ hours, it’s time to shape your challah! I like to make 2 medium sized loaves with a 4-piece “braids”. Traditionally, you would have 1 very large loaf using a 6-piece braid.
- Divide the dough in half. Take 1 half & divide this again into 4 equal sized balls. Using your hands, roll the 4 balls out to evenly shaped “sausages”, about 25cm long. The dough is very elastic & has a tendency to snap back to shorter sausages. Don’t worry, you can re-stretch them when you braid it.
- Use a little water to stick the 4 sausages together at the top. To braid them: start with the sausage furthest on the left & cross it over all the others so it becomes the furthest on the right. Next, take the now 2nd from the right & braid it between the two others on the left. Now continue going from left to right until you reach the end. Don’t worry too much about the braiding! Just do what feels/looks right & aim not to have 2 sausages going the same way next to each other. It will look beautiful when it’s baked!
- Using a little water again, connect the 4 sausages at the end of the braid. Repeat with the 2nd half of the dough.
- Once you have your two braided loaves, arrange them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle with flour & leave them to rise for an additional hour. They should double in size.
- Pro tip: set 2 timers, 1 for an hour plus another for 40 minutes. When the 40-minute one goes off, preheat your oven to 180°C so it is ready to go.
Baking the challah:
- After 1 hour, take your preserved egg whites & brush them over the two loaves. A friend of mine once called this “sunscreen for baking” 😊 & that’s exactly what it is! It prevents the items from getting too brown & crunchy while baking.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, allow to cool, & enjoy!
Post a pic and tag us @nickxfritz_munich with your version!
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