Monday, 30 January 2012

Italian Challah

This is an interesting challah, deemed Italian by virtue of its use of olive oil instead of butter or milk. It is leaner than other challahs but still has that lovely braided shape that we love so much. I tucked my ends under and baked it up in a loaf pan for sandwich making. You could also bake it as a braid on a sheetpan.

A simple but fun loaf that you could get the kids to help you with. ☺

January BOM: 
Italian Challah
recipe and notes from Anthony Cuttitta Jr., my changes in red.

500g all-purpose, unbleached flour
215g warm water
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
15g white sugar
15g extra virgin olive oil
11g kosher salt
10g active dry yeast (instant, for easier blending)
1 large egg (for egg wash)
A 9"x5" bread pan (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS (alter this as need be for those old-school hand kneaders; I've done it, but I'm young enough to be lazy to ♥ my mixer more)

1. Scale out your flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and sugar into the bowl.

2. Crack the eggs (separating the one) and add to bowl.

3. Scale out your water (separately in case you mess up), and then add it to the bowl.

4. Use the dough hook on your mixer and mix the dough on the lowest setting for 2-3 minutes until everything pulls together.

5. Depending on your mixer, put it up to the typical speed that you're comfortable mixing bread doughs at. Whatever that is, allow the dough hook to knead it for 15 minutes. (5 minutes was fine for me)

6. When done kneading, place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (sometimes I spray a bit of vegetable cooking spray on it just in case it proofs up and touches the plastic wrap). Allow it to proof until doubled.

7. Once doubled (dimple test it), remove the dough from the bowl for shaping.

8a. You could very easily just shape this as a regular pan loaf by rolling it out (whether with a rolling pin or just by hand) to about 1/2 inch in thickness. The width should be no wider than the bread pan you intend to use. Then, roll up the dough tightly and make sure it seals well at the end.

8b. If you want to do the traditional challah three-strand braid, here's a good video if you don't know how: Even half of her dough is larger than the dough my recipe makes, but you'll at least get an idea of how to braid it.

8c. This dough is AWESOME basis for cinnamon rolls...but that instruction will have to wait for another BOM. :)

9a. If you chose to use a pan, tuck the ends of the challah under if your braid was longer than your pan. Cover again with plastic wrap and allow to double again (should crest nicely above the rim of the pan).

9b. If you chose to have a free-form braid, just cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to double on the sheet pan.

10. While waiting, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

11. Also, whisk the extra egg and add an two to three tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. I typically prefer a thin egg wash, but your mileage may vary. (I added about 1-2 tsp water only)

12. Once doubled, just before placing in the oven, brush on the egg wash. Be sure to get the sides and make sure it's got a nice even coat. (I baked mine in loaf pans, so only egg washed the top)

13. Toss a bit of water (or ice cubes) in the bottom of your oven, placing the loaf inside and bake for 20 minutes, turning half way through baking until it's a rich golden brown. (I don't use steam for enriched breads)

15. Depan it at the end of 20 minutes and see if the lower crust is browned enough. If it is not browned enough, put it back in on a sheet pan or pizza screen for another 5 minutes. (Mine took about 30-35 minutes in the pyrex loaf pans)

16. Allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing. Enjoy!

This bread has been YeastSpotted!

You can also find out more recipes on Reader's Digest BYOB Badge