Ola Rokita

Hi! I am Ola and I want to share with you my simple baking recipes that can change your life and how you feel.
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Challah

Ola Rokita04 August 2018Comments (0)

Challah

My grandmother inspired this Challah recipe. As a child I spent countless hours with her in the kitchen watching her bake and cook, while she told me stories from her childhood.

When it came to Challah, my job was to help her knead the dough. She would place this large galvanized bowl on my knees and ask me to knead the dough thoroughly, so that the dough would be nice and elastic, and would peal off the walls of the bowl.

My grandmother would rarely buy Challah at the store. Her believe was that the best Challah was made at home because it not only tasted the best, or that it would fill the house with the sweetest aroma, but it also brought people together. And that, my grandmother believed, is the magic of Challah, bringing people together.

I modified my grandmother’s recipe slightly to give it a richer taste. Basically by replacing sunflower seed oil for butter, and water for milk. But if you are a purist, you are welcome to stick to sunflower seed oil and water instead of butter and milk.

But however you choose to bake your Challah, nothing is as satisfying as sharing it with the people you love and watching them tear it peace by peace as they enjoy its sweetness. Challah should never be cut. It needs to be torn with your bare hands.

Enjoy!

Challah

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups flour (I recommend you use Polish "Luksusowa" wheat flour type 550)
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 whole eggs save one egg white for glazing
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 packet active yeast you can use 1 oz (30 g) of fresh yeast
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Pour milk into a small saucepan. Add one whole egg and egg yolk (leave the egg white for coating), and sugar, and with a whisk stir it all together over a medium heat until the mixture is lukewarm. Make sure you don’t overheat your mixture, otherwise it will kill the yeast.


  2. Next, add the yeast and gently whisk it all together. Let the mixture stand for approximately 10 minutes until you notice the yeast is activated.


  3. You’ll notice bubbles forming on the surface. Personally I prefer using fresh yeast, but if you can’t get fresh yeast from your local baker, use dry yeast. In the end the effect is the same.


  4. Take flour and pour it into the stand mixer bowl. Add salt and the mixture to the flour, and using the dough hook extension, knead the dough until it starts pealing off the walls of the bowl. As the dough is being kneaded, melt butter over low heat.


  5. Pay attention so that you don’t burn it. Cool it off slightly and then add the butter to the fully uniform dough. You can tell when the dough is well kneaded when the walls of the bowl are clean. With my stand mixer it takes about 15 minutes.


  6. Once the butter is fully mixed into the dough, find a dry warm place in your kitchen, cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth (my favorite is the linen kind), and let the dough rest for about one hour. During that time you should see your dough double in size.


    dough
  7. Once grown, take your dough and divide it into three equal portions. I like using a kitchen scale for making sure my Challah is perfectly proportioned. But if you don’t have one, an approximation is fine too.


  8. Divide further each portion into three equal parts. Roll each part into a thin long strand and braid the strands into a braid. Repeat these steps for each portion, until you have three braided Challahs. Let them rest for about 45 minutes to an hour.


  9. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 180 Celsius). In the meantime, take a brush and gently apply the egg white over the top of the Challah.


  10. Bake between 20 to 25 minutes, until your Challah is nice and golden. Each oven is different, so you’ll need to learn how long it takes for your oven to bake bread to your preferred darkness.  


Please note that this recipe is made with Polish wheat flour (type 550). This type of flour is ideal for yeast-based baking because it contains a minimum of 25% gluten. This minimum amount of gluten is necessary to ensure your dough is elastic and airy. Big features of Challah.

To learn why I choose to bake with Polish flour, click here.

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