Bread Machine Challah (Chałka)

Challah is a traditional jewish braided bread made on jewish holidays and Sabbath.

In Poland, challah is very popular and it can be bought in any bakery. Though, this baked goodie has no religion meaning. Many people don’t even know that this bread comes from jewish culture.

As a small kid I remember my mom buying it every Saturday. Each time we would sit at a kitchen table with her and gobbled it up, warm with some butter or jam on top, or just plain. Just the two of us. Fresh and warm challah is one of the best things ever.

The challah I remember was moist, sweet and very fluffy with not very crunchy (but soft) skin.

As I grew up the flavor and the texture of it have changed to something very hallow with hard and not very tasty skin. My mom and I didn’t really like it so we stopped buying it. Every now and then if I spotted a new bakery I would stop and buy one just to see if the bakery uses the old good recipe for moist and sweet challah but I had no luck.

I haven’t had challah for at least 5 years.

I’ve been looking for a good recipe for quite a while. Finally I decided to try the recipe from “Allrecipes”. I went through a many reviews under it and I made a few changes mentioned in one of them although I had to change it even more. At the end I ended up with totally different recipe but ah… still SO DELICIOUS !!!

After I took if out from the oven altogether with my daughter we couldn’t stop eating it.

I rolled the dough into three strands instead of four. Didn’t use any special way to braid it just the simple “hair style braid”. Because of that it came out a little flat. Next time I will invest an extra few minutes to learn the right way of doing it.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 room temperature water

1/2 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for honey but I didn’t have any)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour *

2 cups bread flour

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1/4 flax-seed meal (optional)

* I guess, it depends on how big your eggs and yolks are but I had to add and extra 2/3 cup flour to the bread machine during the second kneading.

Directions:

Add to the bread machine: water, olive oil, beaten egg and yolks, all purpose and bread flour, sprinkle the yeast on top. Close the lid and set on “dough”. During the second kneading if the dough is really runny (like mine was) add and extra 1/3 cup of bread or all purpose flour, close the lid and wait for a minute or two. Repeat until the dough form a soft ball inside the bread machine. At the end add flax-seed meal.

Divide the dough into 3 parts and braid as you would make your hair :)

or follow this instruction for the right way how to braid challah.

Transfer the challah onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper, cover with light towel and let rest for about 60 minutes in a warm place.  

After it’s doubled (or tripled) in size preheat the oven to 375.

You can gently brush the top with egg white and sprinkle poppy/sesame seeds on top which I didn’t do. 

Bake for about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes if the top of the challah is dark brown you should cover it with aluminum foil to prevent from burning.

I baked mine for too long and I burned the insides a little too much.

The thing was that each time I checked the bread I was expecting to hear a hollow sound when I tapped it but each time it was soft and seemed not quite baked inside. Finally after 40 minutes of baking I had  decided to take it out and check the inside.

How surprised I was when it looked perfectly baked.

The entire house smelled like heaven :)

We ate it with blueberry jam on top. I mean, SHE ate it with the jam. I ate it plain. That’s how I like it.