Round Forty Seven — Braided Challah
I disagree. I say when life gives you lemons, throw them away (or use them to clean your garbage disposal, and then throw them away) and make challah bread.
Challah is quite fitting for my current predicament, because it’s a loaf traditionally made for holiday celebrations. I’ve challah crowns, but the braided version is reserved for special occasions. Or for times when you’re feeling sad and, dang it, you just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make something delicious.
Debrief: Not much concern with this loaf. It’s pretty self explanatory. Just be sure to pay close attention to the braiding instructions, because if you don’t, your loaf might look stunning, but not in a good way.
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Yields: 1 braided loaf
1/2 cup water
1/3 tbsp yeast
1/3 tbsp salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water (for egg wash)
poppy seeds (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, yeast, salt and egg. Mix in sugar and butter. Add in flour and mix until just combined. Do not knead. Pour dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and place overnight in the refrigerator. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days at this point.
The next day, remove dough from bowl and roll into a ball, pulling the sides down and under with your hands and rotating a quarter turn as you go. On a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and using a bench scraper, divide ball into thirds. Roll each piece into a long, thin rope, about 12 inches long and 1 inch thick.
Braid ropes together from the center outwards and tuck in the ends to ensure the loaf won’t unravel. Let rise on prepared stone or sheet about 1 hour, 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare egg wash and, using a pastry brush, brush onto the loaf. Sprinkle with poppy seeds as desired.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until bread is a deep brown. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.