Earlier this week I posted a recipe for Challah French Toast. Can you guess where the Challah came from? Me! I tried making Challah myself. I’ve really wanted to get back into baking bread again and here was my perfect opportunity.
Baking bread can be a pretty stressful process (for me) because it’s so exact. You have to make sure you have fresh yeast, everything has to be at the right temp, you don’t want to over/under rise your dough. But you know what said this time? Phooey to all that, I’m just going to go for it.
The first loaf was a little over baked. I left it in the oven a little too long and baked it on a lower rack, so it was very brown. The crust definitely tasted like burnt toast, but the center was perfect. Thank goodness I had another shot with the second loaf. The second time was the charm. It was perfect. The bread was golden brown, soft and delicious. I cut off a little end piece while it was still hot and slathered it with butter. Yummy, yum, yum. I couldn’t wait to make French toast with this bread. I decided to make it the next day so it could dry out just a little. If you ready my post on the French toast, you’ll want to make this bread and the French toast.
- 2 ¼-ounce envelopes active dry yeast (about 4½ teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons plus ¾ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
- 4¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup shortening, melted, plus more for greasing
- 7 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 large egg yolks
- poppy or sesame seeds optional
- Whisk yeast, 2 tsp. sugar, and ¼ cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if kneading by hand). Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs, salt, ½ cup shortening, ¾ cup sugar, and 2 cups warm water in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture and 7 cups flour to yeast mixture. Beat with dough hook on medium speed until dough is smooth, elastic, and very sticky and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.)
- Grease a large bowl with shortening; transfer dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½–2 hours.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a 17"-long rope.
- Grease 2 rimmed baking sheets with shortening. Place 3 ropes side by side on each prepared sheet. Working with one at a time, pinch logs together at 1 end; braid, then pinch ends together and tuck under. Let sit in a warm place until 1½ times larger, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 325°. Beat egg yolks and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Working with one at a time, brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake first loaf 15 minutes, then increase oven temperature to 425° and continue baking until browned and sounds hollow when tapped, 15–20 minutes more. Let cool on baking sheet.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°, then leave oven door open 5 seconds to cool down. Repeat baking with remaining dough.