Monday, September 20, 2010

Braided Challah Bread

I love baking my own bread and I don't mind kneading it myself, but I usually just let the stand mixer do the heavy work. About 10 years ago I decided I needed to own an automatic bread machine.  You can't beat it if you only have five minutes to spare for prep work but want fresh bread a few hours later.  As it turned out though, I really missed the hands-on part of bread baking.  Eventually it took a backseat to my stand mixer and then was completely lost in the storage area of the garage that I like to think of as the Appliance Graveyard.  While I realize that anything in an area called a graveyard is probably due to be donated or thrown out, I can't seem to do that.  Just as soon as I donate it I'll want to use it.  I know this because once I donated my 20 year old ice cream maker, that had been in the Appliance Graveyard for 10, I found a new ice cream recipe I wanted to make that used a machine.  I'm still mourning the loss of my food dehydrator as well.
Last year my hoarding of the bread machine went from an annoying habit that my husband simply accepts in me to something possibly akin to opening King Tut's tomb, without the curse.  I found a bread recipe that used the bread machine to make the dough and then the shaping and final rising is done by hand.  I remembered that my model has a dough setting on it, but I'd never tried it.  We promptly began excavating for the bread machine. 

I made Bread Machine Honey Whole Wheat Challah bread, posted to by Rachel Leah D, that uses the machine to mix, knead and rise the dough, then I shape, rise and bake the loaves.  The resulting bread was tender, soft and had a hint of sweetness that compliments both a sweet or savory dish.  While I had intended to make the recipe as directed, I found there were some bumps in the road on the way to my success.  I only had 2 cups of whole wheat flour left, so I had to substitute with some white flour and I learned that my machine is not capable of holding the amount of dough this recipe made.  However, after an exhaustive online search I was able to locate a copy of my machine's long-lost manual and I now know that it makes one 2-pound loaf.

After adding all the ingredients to the machine I pushed the dough cycle button and let it go.  Just under two hours later, I happened to be in the kitchen, preparing my rolling mats for braiding the dough, when the machine showed that it had under 5 minutes left to go.  All of a sudden I heard a muted, yet still loud, "POP!".  Startled, I looked over at the bread machine and saw that the dough had expanded enough to unlatch and push up the lid on it's own! I had dough stuck to every inch of the interior, including the element below the bread container.  At this point I started to reconsider the curse aspect of unearthing my machine. 

The following recipe is my altered version because, as it turns out, we like it best with a combination of white and whole wheat flour and there were no braiding instructions in the original recipe.  I still use the bread machine but have also made the dough in my stand mixer.

Braided Challah Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 egg
1 egg white
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups cracked wheat flour
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4 oz. packet)

For bread machine:
Add the first 8 ingredients to the bread machine in the order listed above.  Using a spatula, gently spread the flour out to cover all the liquid and then make a small well in the center.  Sprinkle the salt around the well and then add the yeast to the well.  Set the bread machine on the dough cycle and let it do it's magic. When the cycle is finished, remove the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Knead a bit of flour into the dough to make it workable, divided it into 3 equal pieces.  Divide the first piece into 3 equal pieces and roll them into 10-12 inch long ropes.  Gently squeeze the tops of each rope together and then braid them together.  Repeat with the other two pieces of dough to create three loaves.  Place the braided loaves on parchment lined (or greased) cookie sheets, cover them with a tea towel or foil and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Then bake the loaves at 325 F for 30-40 minutes.  Makes 3 large loaves.

1 comment:

  1. Love your post. I make my own bread with the ABM doing the heavy work, then I shape it and bake it in the oven. Your Challa bread turne out Fantasticl great photo.


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