Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to have food blogger and DIY lover Ariel Lee joining us for the month of December, sharing four mouthwatering recipes that are perfect for the holiday season.
I love a good, enriched bread! If you know me, you know that I make challah throughout the year, not just around Hanukkah. I’ve used the same recipe for years and years and years, with only a couple tweaks. While I always try to create my own recipes, this one is foolproof. Instead of using 3 1/2 cups plus 3 1/2 cups of flour, I use 3 1/2 plus slightly less than 3 cups of flour. Any more and I find that the dough gets tough. I also let the loaf bake for 30 minutes total, instead of 25. At 25, the color is not quite there (at least in my oven).
Enjoy it toasted, French toasted, baked in bread pudding, plain, by the handful, by the loaf — the possibilities are endless.
(Recipe originally from Tante B at geniuskitchen.)
3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus
3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
2 (1/4 ounce) packages dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 cups warm water (80 -90)
1 egg, beaten
poppy seeds (optional) or sesame seeds (optional)
First measure out all your ingredients.
Now from the 1/2 of cup sugar, take 1 tablespoon of the sugar & combine it with the yeast & warm water (you know you have the right temperature of warm water when it’s the same temperature as the inside of your wrist).
I let my mixer bowl, which is metal (KitchenAid) sit in a hot water bath while the yeast dissolves, 10 minutes.
After the yeast has dissolved (when it’s nice & foamy), add to it the rest of the sugar, salt, & 3 1/2 cups flour.
Mix well (I use the bread hook).
Add egg (already beaten) & oil.
Slowly start mixing in most of the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour. The dough will become quite thick.
When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, turn it onto a floured surface & knead for approximately 10 minutes.
Add only enough additional flour to make dough manageable.
Knead until dough has acquired a “life of its own”; it should be smooth & elastic, springing back when pressed lightly with your fingertip.
Place dough into a large oiled bowl turning the dough once so it’s oiled on all sides.
Cover with a damp towel & let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, punching down in 4-5 places every 20 minutes.
Now, I always write down what time I started so I don’t forget when the 2 hours are up & set a timer every 20 minutes. (In the summer I let the dough rise on my balcony, & in the winter in front of my oven where something is always baking, turning it every time I punch down the dough).
After the 2 hours, turn your dough onto your working surface.
Now comes the forming part.
For Shabbos, I always make a 2-level braided challah, which looks great & is really easy.
Prepare your baking sheet lining it with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
First, take a large knife & cut the dough in half.
Next, from each 1/2 now cut off a third & place the 2 thirds on the side.
Now from the first half (where you’ve removed a third) divide the remaining dough into approximately equal thirds.
Roll each third out till it’s about 10-12 inches (I’m guessing; I never measured it) & braid all 3 rolls together, pinching the top & bottom half together& turning them slightly under.
Place on baking sheet.
Repeat the same for other half.
Now take the first third you removed earlier & divide in 3, braid just like you did before, & place on top of the already braided challah.
Repeat same for other third.
Now let the challah rise for 1/2 an hour.
After the challah has risen, glaze with beaten egg & add mohn or sesame if you wish.
Put in preheated oven & let bake for exactly 25 minutes!
Turn off oven & leave challahs in for exactly another 10 minutes!
Remove from oven.
Enjoy. You deserve every compliment you get!