Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sheridan's Honey Whole Wheat Challah Recipe

Honey Whole Wheat Challah ...mmmm

I have to admit I usually make a mini-loaf for myself because when it comes out of the oven I can't resist this. Also, somehow, my dough always miraculously over-rises and I wind up with more challah than I know what to do with. If that's the case, pull it a few minutes early and freeze a loaf or two for next week. Anyway, I'll stop talking so you can start baking and enjoy!

3 tablespoons (3 packages) active dry yeast

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup honey

3.5 cups lukewarm water

1 cup vegetable oil ( i use a little less)

6 large eggs (save 1 egg and add some water for egg wash)

2 tablespoons salt

16 cups flour total (I do a 2/3 whole wheat to 1/3 white all-purpose flour ratio ... leaning towards a little more white flour.)

Optional: sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling

1. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in 3 to 3.5 cups of lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let yeast proof/activate for 10 minutes. (You can start to measure other ingredients)

2. Whisk the oil into the yeast mixture, then beat in 5 of the eggs, one at a time, along with the remaining sugar, honey and the salt. (To prevent honey from sticking ,use same measuring cup as for oil. Also, you can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading.) Gradually add the 16 cups of flour alternating 2 Whole Wheat with 1 White and stir. When the dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out the bowl and grease it, then return the dough to the bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour. (You may also put the dough in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees, then turned off.) When the dough has almost doubled in volume, punch it down, cover, and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour or so.

4. To make a 6-braided challah, take 1/4 of the dough and form into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand tapered at the ends about 12 inches long and 1½ inches wide. Pinch the strands together at one end, then gently spread them apart. Next, move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then, take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Regroup to 3 on each side. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2 to the middle, then move the second strand from the right over to the far left. Regroup and start over with the outside right strand. Continue until all the strands are braided, tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Tip: always to have 3 strands on each side, so you can keep your braid balanced. Either make the remainder of the loaves the same way and place the braided loaves in greased 10- by 4-inch loaf pans or on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches between them OR, alternately, you can take a round pan and make a pull apart challah very easily; just take some dough, about the size of a tennis ball, roll it out to about 12 inches, and swirl into a roll. Snuggly fit rolls beside one another in the round pan. (Leave a small amount of dough for the "challah is taken" blessing - l’haph’reesh challah min ha’eesah.- for more on that see:

5. Beat the remaining egg and brush it on the loaves. Let rise another half hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush the loaves with egg again, then sprinkle on poppy or sesame seeds.

7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on a rack.

Yield: 4-5 challot

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