This month’s King Arthur Flour #bakealong challenge is Classic Challah Bread. I really liked the look of the bread and was a little worried about the braid, but once I watched the video below, I was actually excited to try it. I really love the look of the six strand braid in the bread and will probably try it with another recipe. My son made a Swiss Zopf bread for school that turned out really good that would be perfect with this braid.
I have really enjoyed getting into making bread and find it fun working with the dough. I must admit that this dough is a bit odd, the feel is more rubbery and it took some real effort to get it rolled out into the six ropes at 20 inches long. Definitely letting it rest after working the dough into six logs before continuing to make the process a little easier. I found that I would work one rope, then move through the rest and circle back to the first one and it made things a little easier.
The bread turned out golden and beautiful, just like the pictures from the bakealong challenge. I’m happy with the result.
Classic Challah Bread King Arthur Flour #bakealong Challenge
1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. instant yeast
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. cold water
Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, until you have a soft, smooth dough.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it's puffy; it won't necessarily double in bulk.
Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
Divide the dough into six equal pieces. Use a scale to ensure they are all equal in weight.
Roll each piece into a rope about 20" long. If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover it and let it rest for about 10 minutes, then resume rolling. The short rest gives the gluten a chance to relax.
Braid the loaf. Watch the video embedded in this post, How to braid a six-strand loaf, to see how it's done.
Gently pick up the braided loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it's very puffy, 90 minutes to 2 hours at cool room temperature. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
To make the glaze/egg wash: Whisk together the egg and water. Brush the glaze over the risen loaf.
Place the baking sheet atop another baking sheet; this will insulate the bread's bottom crust, and keep it from browning too much. Put the challah in the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes. If it's a deep golden brown, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. If it's not as brown as you like, check it again at 30 minutes.
Once you've tented the challah, bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf looks and feels set and its interior registers at least 190°F.
Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.
Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage. While challah does tend to dry out after a day or so, it's always good toasted, or made into grilled sandwiches or French toast.
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