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Challah Back

December 11, 2009

Tomorrow at sundown, Hanukkah begins. And while I”m not Jewish, I will be attending a Hanukkah party this weekend and decided to get into the spirit by making challah.  If you don’t know, traditional Hanukkah fare includes foods like latkes, jelly doughnuts and other fried foods to celebrate the miracle of oil burning for 8 days for the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

With all the holidays, I figured I would save myself the calories and make bread instead of fried foods (ha!). My braiding on the challah could still use a bit of work, but these turned out alright.  Smitten Kitchen has great challah braiding instructions here.

The best part is that the leftover challah makes great french toast. Happy Hanukkah!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

1) Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1 3/4 cup water.

2) Whisk oil into yeast. Beat in eggs with the rest of the sugar and water.

3) Add flour and turn out onto work surface when dough forms. Knead until smooth.

4) Clean out bowl (I like to use the same bowl, and hot water warms up the bowl) & grease it, returning the dough to the bowl.

5) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Gently punch dough down and let rise again for a half-hour. Either of these can be done in the refrigerator for a longer period of time to enhance the flavor of the bread.

6) Remove dough from the bowl and divide into two before braiding. See Smitten Kitchen’s site for good braiding directions.

7) Beat the last egg and brush it onto the loaves.  Let rise another hour.

8 ) Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes. The loaves should be golden brown and crusty.

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