BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Hello Challah

with 6 comments

dsc02338dsc02346Never expected I’d be invited to help make challah here in Corvallis, where it first appeared to be an exotic delicacy. But Chef Intaba knows I want to beef up my baking skills, so she invited me to come by the restaurant last night to help her out.

Let’s just say a six-braid challah should be left up to the pros. It was like complicated knitting. So we each did a three-braid (just like doing hair) and stuck the two together for the second loaf (on the right). Great trick, huh? I’m not sure what dough recipe Intaba used, but it had citrusy accents from orange zest. Could you add vanilla too? I like it a bit on the sweet side. Anyone have a good challah recipe to share?

Before challah braiding, I made my own Mediterranean pesto, feta, roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, Kalamata pizza, which Intaba showed me how to roast in Firework’s outdoor clay oven. She also made a spectacular Viennese Jewish pear, walnut and poppy seed pastry tart, substituting Oregon pears for the apples the recipe called for.


Written by baltimoregon

March 28, 2009 at 1:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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6 Responses

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  1. looks great!

    Yummy Challah!

    Recipe man

    March 28, 2009 at 5:24 am

  2. she substituted oregon pears for apples, and used actual Viennese Jewish pears ?


    March 28, 2009 at 6:53 pm

  3. Viennese Jewish pear tart. The recipe was Viennese in origin, obviously! Don’t be so literal:)


    March 28, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  4. although it may seem a bit strange, of the many challah recipes that i’ve tried– from numerous jewish sources– my favorite recipe is the one included in a julia child cookbook, “baking with julia”…!

    it is an awesome recipe. it produces the kind of challah we used to get from the “cake box” in queens before it closed down (to our dismay!) many years ago. the secret is to follow the recipe exactly, and not to cut it in half. for some reason, halving bread recipes never really seems to work for me– is this the case for you as well?

    ok, well this recipe is just too good not to share:

    2 packages active dry yeast
    1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 110°)
    1/3 cup sugar, plus a pinch
    1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
    1 cup warm whole milk
    1 tablespoon honey
    2 1/2 teaspoons salt
    4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
    About 6 cups bread flour (high-gluten flour!!!!!)

    for the glaze:
    1 large egg
    1 large egg yolk
    1 TBS cold water or heavy cream
    poppy and/or sesame seeds
    coarse salt (optional- i use a little bit…)


    Brush a large mixing bowl with some of the melted butter; set aside. Reserve the remaining melted butter for coating the top of the dough.

    Whisk the yeast into the water. Add a pinch of the sugar and let rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy, about 5 minutes.

    Cut the butter into small pieces and toss into a small saucepan with the milk; heat until the milk is very warm to the touch and the butter has melted. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining sugar, the honey and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar and salt. If necessary, let the mixture cool so that it is no warmer than 110¡.

    Add the creamy yeast to the milk mixture, along with the eggs, and stir to mix. Add about 5 cups of flour, beat on low speed for 3 minutes or until the dough starts to come together. Beating on medium-low, add as much additional flour as needed to make a soft dough that will clean the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium-low for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth, soft and elastic.

    Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered mixing bowl. Brush the top with a little melted butter, cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in volume. When the dough is fully risen, deflate it, cover it as before and let rise until it doubles in bulk again, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half and keep one piece of dough covered while you work with the other.

    Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 16″ long; it should be thick in the center and tapered at the ends. Align the ropes vertically, side by side and start braiding from the center down. When you’ve reached the end, turn the loaf around so that the braided half is on top; braid the lower half. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck the ends under the loaf. Transfer the loaf to a prepared baking sheet and gently plump it to get it back into shape; cover with a towel. Braid the second loaf, put it on a baking sheet and cover. Let the loaves rise at room temperature for 40 minutes or until soft, puffy and almost doubled.

    Glaze and topping:
    Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 375¡. Whisk the egg, yolk and water together in a small bowl until broken up, then push the glaze through a sieve. Brush the tops an sides of the challahs with glaze; let the glaze set for 5 minutes and brush again. Reserve the leftover glaze for brushing the loaves during baking. if you’re topping the loaves, dust them with the seeds; sprinkle coarse salt over the loaves, topped or not.

    Bake for 20 minutes. The loaves will expand and expose some of the inner dough. Brush the newly exposed dough with the reserved glaze and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the loaves are golden and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. If they start to brown too quickly, cover them with a piece of foil. Let cool before slicing.


    there in spirit

    March 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

  5. yum would love to try it! I still find baking intimidating. It is a science you have to follow exactly, huh?


    March 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm

  6. […] first invite came at a matzo-making party I attended with my chef friend Intaba. She’s teaching me to make all the Jewish breads. It’s really a wonder more folks don’t make their own matzo instead of subsisting on […]

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