Every Friday around 2 pm I start my challah. By now it has become such a p
art of me that I don’t even have to look at the original recipe anymore! Gasp! I know. It is so soothing now, that I feel a little off on we
eks that I don’t do it. To preface this recipe, no it is not a “traditional” recipe for challah, but I have modified and added from the recipe it was inspired from to become the staple bread in our home.
I love making challah because then I have bread in the house and I almost never buy bread. Saving money is always a goal in our house. Not only does it make amazing sandwich bread, but in my biased opinion, the best french toast ever. On the weeks that we don’t eat as much bread, I tear it up at the end of the week and let it dry out a bit on a cookie sheet before grinding it up in a food processor to keep as breadcrumbs. Pro Tip: breadcrumbs keep exceptionally well in the freezer.
The first time I made challah on my own I was a little nervous. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience working with yeast, so it was a little out of my comfort zone. When I first started making it and I was working in an office full time I used one of my mom’s cheats. Mix up the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge until you need it the next day. This works incredibly well, especially for busy people. My biggest problem with it was finding enough room in my fridge! Yes, a good problem to have.
Now that I make challah every week, my husband occasionally requests mix-ins. His current favorite, is dried dates. I know the traditional dried fruit is raisins, but he has a vendetta against what he calls ‘secret raisins’. I will admit, I do sympathize with with his issue of raisins that show up in places that you wouldn’t expect. So yes, dried dates have become our family favorite when it comes to mixing up the weekly challah. I should also mention, that although I do make it every week, I try to change up the shapes. Sometimes it is more of a loaf, other times in roll form.
Originally inspired from the Honey Rolls recipe from A Cookie A Day
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 eggs (one whole, one yolk)
- 3/4 dried dates (optional)
- Begin by combining warm water with honey. Next stir in yeast and let it sit until the yeast
has bloomed, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, in a large bowl combine flour with salt. Once the yeast has bloomed, whisk in your eggs (I typically add one whole and one yolk, but if you don’t feel like separating your egg it will turn out fine with two whole eggs).
- Combine the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix until a think, sticky dough has formed. If you want to add in any dried fruit, this is the time to do it. Then simply move the dough from one side to the other so you can spray the bowl with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking while it rises. Remember to spray the top of the dough so it doesn’t dry out.
- Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours. Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a floured surface. If making a traditional challah, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into snakes approximately 12 inches long. Begin braiding the first three strands from the middle down, then turn around to braid the other end.
- If baking in a loaf pan, tuck the ends under so it will fit into your pan. If baking on a cookie sheet, make sure the seal up the ends so they look pretty.
- Cover your loaves again and let rise for another 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400° F. This is the time to decide if you want to add an egg wash or not. If yes, combine an egg with a little bit of warm water and brush over the loaves before baking them in the oven for 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.