Time för the Bread Baking Babes to present another baking challenge again! This month we had the joy of baking challah under supervision of Sara of I like to cook. Challah is a Jewish traditional bread, but according the Wiki article on challah, it is related to the Swedish bread barkis (in Göteborg) or bergis (in Stockholm). I had no idea of that, this was news to me! But there are lot of references to this on the internet, i.e. here and here (in Swedish).
This version of the bread (it seems that there are several) reminds me of Swedish Christmas sweet bread, a little because of the saffron, but also due to the texture -- but the challah is less sweet, and turned out to make very good toast bread.
The dough is smooth and elastic, and lets you form the mandatory braids with ease.
So here goes:
Challah – 2 loaves
Stir the saffron and the fresh yeast into the warm water until dissolved. Add sugar, salt, softened butter and the smaller amount of flour to the water mixture and blend thoroughly. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed.
Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Blend the single egg white and the other 3 whole eggs into the batter, and set the single egg yolk aside. Carefully add enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Continue to beat the dough by machine 5 minutes or by hand for 8–10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Let the dough rise until doubled (approximately one hour).
Take up the dough and give it a few kneads. Divide it into 2 equal parts, then divide each part into 2 pieces, with one piece about twice as big as the the other one. Divide each piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes together tightly, using your fingers to press the dough together at the ends. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 10 inch ropes and braid tightly. Place the smaller braid on top of the larger one and seal the ends. Repeat this process to form the second loaf. Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet or on baking parchment.
Mix the reserved single egg yolk with the 1 tsp of cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. If you have any, that is – I didn't, and used sesame seeds on one of the loaves and nigella/kalonjii seeds on the other one.
Let the loaves rise until doubled in a warm, draft-free place (approximately one hour). Bake at 200 °C for 20–25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.
I found it very good buttered, or toasted with a slice of not-to-sharp cheese.
Now you'll have to take a look at the challah made by the other Baking Babes:
I like to cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), Notitie Van Lien (Lien), My Kitchen In Half-Cups (Tanna), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), Lucullian Delights (Ilva), Bake my Day (Karen), A Fridge Full of Food (Glenna)
Next month I am hosting – and we are going to make something Swedish!