Maggie’s Challah

I googled “best challah ever”, and Epicurious led me to the Chernowitzer challah by Maggie Glezer. It really, truly is the most amazing challah.

I made three tiny modifications: I took out half the sugar (just because I didn’t want it to taste too sweet),I reduced the yeast because I like my bread to taste like bread and not like yeast (it puffed up fine), and I added a tad bit more flour (because my dough seemed to be stickier than hers –possibly because I used all-purpose flour instead of the recommended bread flour). The result was perfect.

Who doesn’t love a good challah, the brioche-like dairy-free equivalent made on Sabbath? I have a tendency of making it week-round because it goes with everything, from cheese to jam, and can be turned into the absolute best French toast when thickly sliced.

The quintessential shape of challah is usually a braid. It is made by separating the dough in three parts and rolling each one until it becomes a log, then reuniting them and plaiting them. The first time I made challah, I followed a how-to YouTube video. The result wasn’t as pretty as the braids you find in boulangeries, but it was definitely nicer looking than the twisted loaf I made this morning.

Whatever way you decide to shape it, though, it will taste the same: rich and airy, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Just divine. Absolutely divine. Even if you swear by your grandma’s recipe, give this one a try! It’s too perfect not to.

 

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Makes 1 large loaf

15 g fresh yeast or 3/4 tsp granulated yeast

¾ cup warm water

2 tbsp sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3 ¾ cups bread flour)

1 ½ tsp salt

2 eggs

1/3 vegetable oil

 

Sesame seeds & fleur de sel for garnish

1 egg for egg wash

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yeast, warm water, and sugar and let sit 10 minutes until mixture bubbles.
  2. Beat in eggs, oil, and salt. Mix until smooth.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour. Whisk until incorporated.
  4. Set in a bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let double in size, about 1 ½ hours.

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5. Punch down the dough and shape it. Place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise another 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. It will continue to rise when baking.

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6. Preheat your oven to 350 F or 180 C.

7. Beat the egg reserved for the egg wash. With clean fingers or with a baking brush, slather the top of the challah with the egg wash. Drizzle with sesame seeds and fleur de sel.

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8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and puffed up.

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