Monday, May 17, 2010
A PAINTED CHALLAH
What is large, fat, soft, huggable and can be eaten? A look alike teddy bear with its arms and legs crossed.
This Challah turned out so huge that Z was constantly exclaiming as I cajoled it from the oven. This is the hugest braided bread I've made. It sat diagonally on my largest jelly roll tray and it just grew and grew. I created a beast.
Then with a brush wielding hand (if you have read my earlier posts you'll know I'm on a bread painting binge) I painted it and I thought it looked all right until I saw the photos. The design was inspired by the two pots of ferns that stand guard on each side of our front door.
The longer I stared at the photos the more frightened I became. It looked reptile-ish because of the glaze-y and shiny finish. Oww. It's a Frankenstein. (I told you I preferred rustic). But I'm still posting this because I'm not going to make another one so soon. It's huge! I don't think painted bread look too good glazed. Dusted with flour and rustic is so much better. In my opinion.
But as large as it is, it is very tender and soft and delicious. A gentle beast. I was afraid of an egg-y smell and taste because of the number of eggs it used, so I had my apprehensions at first, but this had none of that.
This recipe uses 4 eggs ~ 2 whole and 2 yolks. Other recipes that I've looked at use at least 5. So that was the main reason I went with this one, from Cooking Bread. It turned out perfectly soft and rich and I'm very happy with the results. I totally recommend it.
I'm submitting this to Yeast Spotting.
Enough said...here's the recipe ~
1 cup lukewarm water
2 T oil
3 T honey
41/2 cups bread flour
11/2 tsp dry yeast (I used instant)
In a bowl combine water, eggs, honey and oil. Whisk.
Pour the egg oil water mixture into a large bowl and add 2 cups of bread flour, yeast and salt. Beat together. (I used the electric mixer with the paddle beater. Allow to rest 15 minutes uncovered. Then add the rest of the flour 1/2 a cup at a time until finished by which time you would get a sticky, soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes. Although the dough is sticky and soft try to resist adding to much flour when kneading. As bread makers would always say ...it's better to err on the sticky side than the dry....
I would advise getting a metal scraper to scrape the dough off the board when you want to turn it over to knead. Rather than sprinkling flour onto the dough, flour your hands instead, and that way you will resist adding too much flour. There is no need to knead hard. Just some gentle kneading for 10 minutes continuously will do the job. (If you knead too hard you'll just get all the dough sticking and clinging to your hand).
When done kneading place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until double in size.
Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces ( I weighed them so that I got really equal sizes...each were 350 gm).
Roll each piece of dough into a long strand about 11 or 12 inches long then braid it. Please look here for braiding. Once braided place on a ready lined baking tray and allow to rise until double in size. Brush with the left over egg whites twice to ensure a shiny finish. I understand Challahs are suppose to be shiny. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or other seeds that you like.
Bake for 20 minutes then rotate the bread and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Note : 3 risings (the 3rd being a very slow rise in the refrigerator if possible) would bring out a better, more flavourful bread. I painted it so I baked it until lightly golden without the egg wash, took it out, painted it and returned it to oven for about 3 minutes to allow the paint to dry and then took it out again to glaze it with egg wash and then baked it again for the rest of the suggested time.
Paint : I used egg yolk mixed with a very small amount of thick black coffee.