No-knead braided challah
No-knead braided challah
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Raisin brioche challah
Raisin brioche challah

Baking home-made challah is pure pleasure for the whole family. Just bear in mind: It's best to weigh all the ingredients ahead of time, and if you're not using an electronic scale, amounts in the recipes are also given in terms of measuring cups and spoons.

Round honey challah

This beautiful challah comes with a ceramic bowl in the center into which honey is poured, making an impressive addition to the holiday table. The custom originated with Italian Jewry, while the recipe for the challah dough comes from Uri's family.

For the dough:

380 grams (1 3/4 cups ) slightly cool tap water

40 grams (4 tbsp ) fresh yeast

1 kilo (7 1/2 cups ) sifted white flour

2 eggs

40 grams (3 tbsp ) sugar

15 grams (1 tbsp ) salt

70 grams (1/3 cup ) oil or melted butter

60 grams (3 tbsp ) honey

1 or 2 cardamom seeds, separated from the pods and crushed

For the coating:

1 beaten egg

slivered almonds or hazelnuts (sesame seeds or poppy seeds may also be used )

Preparing the dough:

Pour the water into the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Add in this order: flour, eggs, sugar, salt and oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook at low speed, mix for 4 minutes, until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 more minutes until dough is elastic and not too soft. Remove dough, place it on a floured work surface and roll into a ball.

Place the ball of dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 40 minutes until it has nearly doubled in volume.

Making the challah:

With a knife, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll three of them into 40-cm-long cylinders. Braid these three pieces as you would braid hair, and arrange the dough around your ceramic bowl.

Divide the fourth piece of dough into 10 equal pieces and make small rolls. In the spirit of the holiday, you can put dates, figs or apples in the center of the rolls. Cover all the dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for 35 minutes until the challah and rolls have doubled in volume.

Baking: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Lightly spread beaten egg over the challah and generously sprinkle with almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack. Bake the rolls for about 12 minutes, peeking to see if they are done a little sooner.

No-knead braided challah

This recipe combines two traditions, old and new. Hasidim traditionally bake challah without eggs, a custom that likely originated for economic reasons. The taste is reminiscent of Grandma's challah from days gone by. And if you wish to avoid eggs altogether, here is another Hasidic trick: Brush the challahs with water mixed with corn flour to create a sheen. Modern aficionados of no-knead baking say that the network of gluten, which gives the bread its character and elasticity, develops even without energetic kneading. The principle is simple - Just give the dough time to do the job itself.

Ingredients for 3 challahs:

For the dough:

650 ml (2 2/3 cups ) slightly cool tap water

30 grams fresh yeast

1 kilo flour

50 grams (3 heaping tbsp ) sugar

15 grams (1 tbsp ) salt

For the coating:

1 beaten egg

sesame seeds

Preparing the dough

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and add in this order: flour, sugar and salt. Mix all the ingredients by hand until well combined, without big lumps. Flour lightly, cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 35 minutes. Fold the dough into an "envelope" by folding the four sides toward the middle, and then turn the folded dough into a bowl with the "seam" face down. Lightly flour, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside once more for 35 minutes. Then repeat the folding process and set aside for 30 more minutes.

Making the challahs: Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough (with a knife ) into 3 equal pieces and then divide each piece again into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 25-cm-long cylinder. Braid each three pieces as you would braid hair, and place the three braided challahs on a pan lined with baking paper. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 35 minutes. Brush each challah with beaten egg and sprinkle on sesame seeds.

Baking: Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Raisin brioche challah

The idea here is first to knead in order to obtain a very elastic dough, and then to add the butter in two stages. This dough should be prepared the day before baking. The recipe makes 3 challahs, which can be placed in tin containers, small springform pans or disposable round foil pans.

For the dough:

500 grams (3 3/4 cups ) sifted white flour

15 grams (1 1/2 tbsp ) fresh yeast

6 cold medium eggs

125 grams sugar

10 grams salt

250 grams cold butter, cut into cubes

1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and soaked in a little rum

200 grams raisins

For the coating:

1 beaten egg

Making the dough:

Crumble the yeast with the flour into a coarse meal in the mixing bowl. Add in this order: eggs, sugar and salt. Using the dough hook, knead at low speed for 4 minutes until the ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and knead for 7 more minutes until the dough is elastic and somewhat firm. Take out two-thirds of the dough and place on a lightly floured work surface.

Gradually add the butter to the third of the dough that remains in the bowl and continue kneading at low speed for 3 minutes. Because of the large amount of butter, you need to stop periodically and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. The dough will not look uniform. Add the rest of the dough to the mixing bowl and continue kneading at low speed for 2 minutes, just until the dough becomes smooth and uniform. Add the vanilla bean and rum. It's best to avoid kneading for too long so the dough won't heat up.

Roll dough into a ball and place in a lightly floured bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for an hour. Press a hand on the dough to release the air. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Making the challahs:

Divide the ball of dough into 18 equal parts. Divide the raisins equally, add them to the pieces of dough and roll the dough into balls. Place six balls in each tin container or baking pan lined with baking paper and brush with beaten egg. Let rise for an hour and a half, and brush with beaten egg again.

Baking: Heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Place the pan in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 160 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes (Open the oven after 15 minutes and turn the pan around ) until golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and let cool on a rack. If the color is still too pale, bake for a few more minutes without the pan.

Spelt challah

Recipe makes 2 challahs.

For the dough:

100 grams whole wheat or rye seeds

3 cups water

40 grams molasses or eucalyptus honey

300 ml (1 1/3 cups ) water

40 grams (3 tbsp ) fresh yeast

500 grams (3 3/4 cups ) sifted whole spelt flour

300 grams (2 1/4 cups ) sifted white flour

3 eggs

15 grams (1 tbsp ) salt

25 grams (1 heaping tbsp ) sugar

50 grams oil (or butter or margarine )

For the coating:

1 beaten egg

black sesame seeds

Boil the wheat or rye seeds in 3 cups of water until they swell and soften. Drain the water and mix the seeds with the molasses or eucalyptus honey. Set aside.

Preparing the dough: Pour the water into a mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Add in this order: both kinds of flour, eggs, salt, sugar and oil. Using the dough hook, knead at low speed for 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and somewhat firm. Add the molasses or honey mixture to the dough while kneading slowly for another minute, until just combined. Remove the dough, place on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a ball.

Place the ball of dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes, or until the dough has nearly doubled in volume.

Making the challahs: Divide the dough (with a knife ) into 6 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 30-cm-long cylinder. Braid three pieces as you would braid hair, leaving the ends open. Shape each challah into a circle, tuck one of the ends underneath and use the five remaining ends to form the shape of a hamsa. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 35 minutes, until the challahs double in volume.

Baking: Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Gently spread each challah with beaten egg and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.