Last week I went along to a challah baking day at the synagogue which was organised by my mum. I don’t tend to make bread all that often – being an impatient, quick bake a cake so I can eat it now, kind of girl. So this day was a real change for me.
There were fourteen bakers on the workshop and the ages literally spanned the generations from a two year old right up to granny ages ( I won’t divulge!) We started out with all the ingredients measured into bowls for us and the lovely Israeli Dorit showed us what to do.
Bread dough feels so different from any other baking I do. It’s got a soft, squishiness to it. As a newbie I had no idea when to stop kneading and when to add flour, water or as was the case with one really sticky dough – oil! (yes we literally had the dough sticking to the table top then a dribble of oil and another knead and it was all together and smooth- no longer sticking anything not even our hands!)
After each stage we had to leave the dough to proove which meant tea and cakes with a good old natter while we waited. Once the Challah dough was ready Dorit showed us how to plait with three, four or more lengths. You literally just lift the right hand length then weave it under and over the other lengths. Then pic up the new right hand one and continue. The end result looked great once I had curled my plait into a circle.
Once out of the oven and smothered in honey the Challah was ready to be left to cool before eating – for once I waited! The bread was totally delicious.
- 9g (2 ½ tsp) dried yeast
- 25g (2 tbsp) sugar
- 400ml (1 ½ cups) of warm water
- 20g (2 tbsp) plain flour
- 940g (6 cups) of plain flour
- 135ml (⅓ cup) honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 100g soft margarine
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 2 tbsp honey (optional)
- seasame seeds or poppy seeds
How to make Challah
This recipe is enough to make one whoppa of a challah or two good sized ones.
- In a small bowl mix the starter ingredients together with just a little of the water. Mix it into a paste before adding the rest of the water. It will become slightly frothy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Place all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a spoon to combine then get your hands stuck in and knead it till it’s a ball of sticky-ish dough.
- Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm room (the airing cupboard is perfect) and leave for an hour till the dough has doubled in size.
- Knead the dough to knock the air out of it using a little olive oil if necessary. Set aside for another hour.
- Divide the dough into three equal balls, roll into long lengths then plait them together – tucking the ends underneath.
- Leave on the baking tray lined with baking paper for another 40 minutes so it rises even more.
- Heat your oven to 190ºC (Fan 170ºC). Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle seeds liberally over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the Challah sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.
- Brush honey over the top using a pastry brush as soon as the Challah comes out of the oven. Leave to cool.
Thanks mum for organising the Great Catford Challah bake. Everyone had a great time (and I hope we can do it again some time!)
p.s. A word of warning- Don’t bake bread on a Sunday evening, fall asleep in front of Downton Abbey and not hear the oven timer going off. The end result will not be good!