The Daring Bakers #20 Challah... and my childhood memories :)

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

"Challah (also ḥallah plural: challot/ḥalloth/khallos) (Hebrew: חלה) is a special braided bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays. According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and two holiday meals (one at night and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of bread. This "double loaf" (in Hebrew: lechem mishneh) commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. The manna did not fall on Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion would fall the day before the holiday or sabbath. Each single loaf is woven with six strands, both loaves have twelve which represent each tribe of Israel." - by

Challah - or chalka in Polish - is something I'm very familiar with :) I remember when I was only few years old and we had some leftover, a little on the hard side, chalka. My dad used to warm some milk and put a little bit of sugar in it. He then tear the chalka (or chopped into a big cubes) and add to the milk. Chalka would soak all the sugary, warm milk and... that would be my breakfast! Nothing better on a cold winter morning... especially when you have a hard school day in front of you ;)
This time it was my Hubby who fought with this month's challenge. It's Him who bakes all the breads at home so why not this time ;) The result was fantastic! Just like I remembered it.. You have to try it!
Oh, and Ruth - thank you my dear for the great challenge and bringing back those great, childhood memories! xoxo

How to make it...

Easy Challah
- 4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
- 1 cup warm water (Hubby used 1/2 water and 1/2 milk)
- 1 package rapid rise yeast
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Measure flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer) combine water and yeast, allow to sit 5 minutes until foamy.
Add 1 ½ cups of the flour mixture to the water and yeast mixture, beat until well combined. Cover with a dish towel, let stand 30 min. Add two eggs to the dough, beat again.By hand or with your dough hook knead in the remaining flour mixture. Knead approximately 10 minutes.Transfer to oiled bowl, cover, let rise one hour.
Punch down dough, knead approximately 3 minutes. Divide dough in two. Shape each half as desired (3, 4, or 6 strand braid). Place loaves on parchment covered or greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise one hour. Preheat oven to 200 C. Brush loaves with egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180 C, bake until golden crust forms (about 25-30 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Once cooled, challah loaves which will not be eaten right away (or in the next couple of days) should be bagged in heavy duty freezer bags. Remove excess air from the bag before securing it tightly (tying a knot or using tape). Put the bagged loaf/loaves into the freezer as soon as possible to ensure fresh taste; frozen challah will keep approximately three months.


P.S. Go to The Daring Kitchen website to find more recipes for Challah and to see how my fellow Daring Bakers finished this month's challenge! :)