Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hamelman's Challah

As I mentioned in previous posts, pop's is here in Israel visiting. Yesterday, we spent the day doing errands in town, visiting the shuk, but mostly just spending time together. He leaves Thursday... not too excited about that. But let me tell you about this Challah. Once I knew that we were spending Shabbat together, I immediately wanted to bake challot. Nothing new right? You see, my dad and I have an interesting relationship when it comes to challah. I've been baking challot for about six or seven years, starting way back when I was in high school. Those were my early baking days and I knew nothing about bread at all. The recipe I made every week was a honey whole wheat, not necessarily the best loaves to make when you're starting out. Sure enough, my loaves would come out dense and shapeless. I would bring them to the table and my dad would lift one up and start swinging it as if it were a baseball bat. He used to crack many a joke at their expense. Sad times. I always say, it's lucky that I didn't take offense and quit challah baking because these days, my challot are light and fluffy and beautifully braided. I havent really been around New York enough to show him that my challot are really good so I jumped at the chance. Of course, there was a lot of pressure on to make sure that these wouldnt flop. For some reason, I decided to try another new challah recipe and this week, it was Jeffrey Hamelman's Challah from his awesome book, Bread. I made only half a recipe because we were only going to be four adults and two was more than enough. The only adjustments I made were to round up the sugar and oil to a full tbsp and to use Israeli all purpose flour. I also glazed the breads with egg white, so as not to be wasteful. How did they come out? They were just barely sweet with a nice chewy, if a bit dense, texture. The crumb was nice and yellow and the breads held up in the oven and sliced like a dream. These were perfect with savory toppings as well, which in my book, always adds a few points. Once more, these loaves are headed over to Yeastspotting!

adapted from Hamelman's Bread

2 pounds all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast

2 egg yolks
1 egg
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk until combined.
Add the eggs, water and oil.
Stir to form a shaggy dough.
Allow to rest for about twenty minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and firm.
Place in a greased bowl and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
Here is my risen dough. Remove from the refrigerator and scale the dough.
Braid and set on a baking sheet to proof.
My proofed loaves. Towards the end of proofing, preheat your oven to 350.
Bake until deep golden brown and a thermometer registers about 190-200.
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. 

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