Bread is something that uniquely brings everyone together; It comes in all shapes, forms and sizes and appeals to everyone no matter your palate. Twist bread as I call it, or Challah (enriched yeast bread) as it is better known, is soft pillowy bread which gets eaten in no time. However leftovers make the perfect French toast and sandwich puddings.
My love of bread making originates from my mom , who taught me endless tricks and tips in making the perfect bread, my favorite memories are those of us waiting around for the bread to come out the oven with butter knives in hand. This wonderful recipe is perfect to have at any occasion and is truly magnificent.
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup white granulated sugar ( I prefer to add less sugar, this is optional)
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (keep the white for the egg wash)
¼ cup oil ( or ¼ cup melted butter)
Dissolve the yeast: Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl, and add a pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand until you see a thin frothy layer across the top. This means that the yeast is active and ready to use. (If you do not see this or if your yeast won’t dissolve, it has likely expired and you’ll need to purchase new yeast.)
Mix the dry ingredients: Whisk together 4 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand).
Add the eggs, yolk, and oil: Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Whisk these together to form a wet dough, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl.
Mix to form a messy dough: Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Mix the yeast, eggs, and flour with a long-handled spoon until you form messy dough that is difficult to mix.
Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes: With a dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed for 6 to 8 minutes. (Alternatively, turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.) If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky, but no longer like bubblegum. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball-shape.
Let the dough rise until doubled: Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Separate the dough and roll into ropes: Separate the dough into three or six equal pieces, depending on the type of braid you’d like to do. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope roughly 1-inch thick and 16 inches long. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again.
Braid the dough: Gather the ropes and squeeze them together at the very top. If making a 3-stranded challah, braid the ropes together like braiding hair or yarn and squeeze the ends together when complete
Let the challah rise: Line a baking sheet with parchment and lift the loaf on top. Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and drape it with a clean dishcloth. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts and let it rise until puffed and pillowy, about an hour.
Brush the challah with egg white: About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 180° C. When ready to bake, whisk the reserved egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf.
Bake the challah: Slide the challah on its baking sheet into the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The challah is done when it is deeply browned.
Cool the challah: Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. I instantly butter a slice and eat it.
Happy bread Making!