Whoooops, not really sure what happened there. Actually, that’s a complete and utter lie—I know exactly what happened. The beginning of my internship and apartment-hunting, -applying, and -getting (!!!) happened. Oh, and I’ve also been working on a little redesign for the blahhhg. So, all good things (um, besides the applying part), but things have been a bit insane around here lately. I’m just lucky we don’t have to do apartment-moving for another couple months.
To make it up to you, though, I have the most excellent challah recipe. You know how I keep whining about how I hate making the same thing twice? Well, this puppy is an exception. Big-time. I think I’ve made it at least six times or so over the past few years. I think challah was the first yeast recipe I ever tried; I decided that something so awesome must be fun to make, so I pulled out my brand-new America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (which I’d just stolen from my mom…this was at least five years ago, before I even heard about Cook’s Illustrated) and tried their version. And it was, um, gross. Not sure what happened, but it was basically a brick. So I went to my go-to recipe source at the time, Allrecipes, read through all of the 80 billion reviews for the top-reviewed recipe, made some of the suggested tweaks, and ughhhh yum. Since then, I’ve added an egg yolk or two and a little bit of honey, such that now, it’s deeeelightful. Nom.
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast [I use instant]
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg plus 4 yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 1 egg and 3 yolks, 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.
2. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto a floured board. Knead for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snakes about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid. [I usually skip over this part and do a four- or five-strand braid; there a couple of good tutorials on Youtube that make it pretty simple, and it makes the loaf nice and high.] Grease two baking trays and place one finished braid on each. Cover with towel and let rise about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Beat the remaining egg with a tablespoon or two of honey and brush generously over each braid [or the one gigundo braid].
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes [mine usually takes significantly long, but as long as you tent it with foil, it should be fine—and it also helps to bake on a double-layer of baking sheets to insulate the bottom so it doesn’t burn]. Bread should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.
Source: adapted from Allrecipes