Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


On Tuesday I baked a loaf of Challah. I thought that the simple Shepherd Pie I planned for dinner would benefit from a lovely, rich egg bread. And it did. Whenever I bake Challah, I always wonder why I don't bake it more often. It's so wonderfully tasty and soft, and no more difficult than any other loaf of bread. Note to self: bake Challah.

Though this bread has the Jewish name Challah, it's really just egg bread. In fact, since I used not one Kosher ingredient (actually the salt was Kosher) maybe I shouldn't even call it Challah. But the kids love to say Challah, with a very hard "h", and so we call it Challah. This recipe is loosely based on the one in Joy, but I do quite a few things differently (do I ever really follow a recipe, I ask?).


1 package active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
3 + c. flour
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserve white), lightly beaten
3 T. oil (butter could also be used, unless you're Jewish, and then you know the rules)
3 T. sugar
1 t. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand several minutes.
Add a cup of flour, the eggs and yolk (not the extra white),
oil or butter, sugar and salt. Mix by hand or by machine until blended.
By hand, or with a dough hook, knead in remaining flour, adding more if necessary
until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough (knead for a total of about 6 minutes).
Dough should not stick to your hands, but should not be firm either.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, flip, and cover,
and let rise until doubled, 60 to 90 minutes.
Punch dough down and separate into three equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a thick rope, about 15 inches long.
Place ropes side by side and braid, pinching the ends together until they stick
(I find it helpful to do this without flour -- it makes the rolling and sticking easier.)
Place braid on a baking sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal.
Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap or damp tea towel
and let rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush braid with reserved egg white.
You can sprinkle with a little kosher salt, poppy seeds or sesame seeds if you like.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely golden brown
and loaf sounds fairly hollow when tapped.


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