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Monday, August 12, 2013

Challah Bread

According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and two holiday meals (one at night and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of bread. This "double loaf" (in Hebrew: lechem mishneh) commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when theIsraelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt according to Jewish religious belief. The manna did not fall on Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion would fall the day before the holiday or sabbath. Each single loaf is woven with six strands. Together, both loaves have twelve which represent each tribe of Israel.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challah

      
Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup warm water 
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg for brushing tops (room temperature)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup of flour, yeast, and warm water. Mix into a smooth slurry.
Let stand uncovered for 20 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and swollen.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and salt until thoroughly combined.









Add egg mixture to bubbly yeast mixture and mix until smooth.










Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time.










When the dough begins to form a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and continue kneading in flour. Knead 8 - 10 minutes.

Your dough should be somewhat firm and elastic.







Lightly grease a bowl with a lid, and place the dough in the bowl, turning over to coat top with grease.
Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.







After rising, separate dough into 9 equal sized pieces.










Roll each piece of dough into a rope and line them all up side by side.

If you know how to braid a 6 strand braid than do that, I braid 3 at a time and then braid the 3 braids together.







Once you have 3 braids, braid these together as well.
Pinch both ends of loaf, tucking under slightly to hide the seams.










Place the braided loaf on a lightly greased baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap.









Allow the loaf to rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Brush surface of loaf with beaten egg.









Bake in preheated 375 degree F oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until loaf is deep brown and hollow sounding when tapped.
You may brush the loaf a second time with egg half way through baking for a deeper glossy appearance.
Allow baked loaf to cool on wire rack.

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