Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sweet Challah

Photobucket

This past week has gone by so fast. I couldn’t even believe that the weekend has come, and just as quickly, is gone. But you know what they say, when one is busy, one barely notices the time. I was defintely preoccupied at work. It was a pretty interesting week for me, to say the least. I wish I can engage you in an office gossip – but nah… LOL… you wouldn’t appreciate that in a food blog, would you now? ;oD

Anyways, I’ve always been a person who cannot sit still. I like to be busy. No, I thrive at being busy. I am always doing something even when I am sitting down. I’m the type who’s ever on-the-go and always ready to rock and roll, so to speak. I’m used to last minute changes and I adapt immediately to situations when need be.

The downside of this is that it isn’t easy for me to relax, and by this I mean, to just sit down and do.... nothing. I feel like there is always something important for me to do with my time. I have to deliberately slow down. Mr. J is very good at reminding me of this (thank God). I realize that I do need to take a break once a while. It is indeed important to take the time to appreciate the things around us, to enjoy and take in what we have at the moment, otherwise, we might miss out on a lot (and it might be too late when we realize that we did).

Anyways, enough about my rambling.

Photobucket

I love bread. Growing up though, I wasn’t so much of a bread eater. As you know, being Asian means that my house had more rice and noodles than bread. In the Philippines, the only meal served with bread is breakfast (pan de sal). Other than that, bread is more of a snack item to Filipinos than anything else.

However, my short stint in Europe years ago, and now being based in the U.S., have slowly changed me. I’ve come to eat bread with my meals more and I don’t crave rice as much as I used to. (Ugh. I can almost hear the gasp of some Filipinos who may scream “sacrilege!” )

I love to bake bread. Nothing compares to that sweet aroma that tantalizes our senses when baking at home. Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle of life, I rarely get the chance to bake them--- and I mean bake ’em in the old fashion way of kneading and manhandling the dough! Hehehe…. (It’s a good stress reliever, actually).

Photobucket


One of the breads that I love eating is Challah (pronounced “khal-lah” - you gotta make that gutteral sound too). Challah is a braided, eggy loaf of bread traditionally eaten by Jews during Sabbath, holidays and other ceremonies. It is very close to the French brioche.

I decided to make Challah for the first time. I buy it all the time so might as well try my hand at it. It came out good, didn't it? With a bit more practice, I'll have the braiding part down in no time.

Nothing beats home-made breads. They’re the best.

Sharing this home-made Challah to Lasang Pinoy Sunday: Bready Or Not. Lasang Pinoy (La.Pi.S) is a weekly food thematic photography meme, Filipino style.

This is also my entry to Homemade#2 Bread, an wonderful event by Ben. Hop over to there to check out all the wonderful creations by other home bakers.

Sweet Challah
from Cooking Light
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
3 tablespoons honey
Dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour (about 14 1/4 ounces), divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds* (I used more than this amount)

Preparation
1) Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.

2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

3) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

4) Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

5) Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.

6) Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

7) Preheat oven to 375°.

8) Combine 1 teaspoon water and large egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

*NOTE: You may also leave the poppy seeds out, or substitute with sesame seeds, or maybe use sunflower seeds for that matter.



47 comments:

Happy cook said...

I want to have few slices from thish delicious challa breead, looks so yummy delicious.

Maria said...

Gorgeous challah! The photos are stunning!

5 Star Foodie said...

The challah looks just delicious! I love the photos!

Z'riz said...

hehehe I'm not sure that I have tasted this bread though. I'll have to find one or make one. ehehehee

and despite what most Pinoy's would call sacrilege, I also do not crave rice as much. hehehe hello salad or bread for me!

Leora said...

You make a delicious looking challah. I make challah every Friday, and each week it comes out different. Never looks like the ones in the magazines, but yours does!

And here I am trying to eat more rice (whole grain) and less bread.

♥peachkins♥ said...

I would really like to learn how to bake...that bread looks great!

oggi said...

The challah looks great! Saffron sounds really good.:)

Sara said...

What a beautiful challah! I'm jewish, so challah is a regular occurrence in my house

MUSHROOMSfromHOME said...

oh la la, ang ganda! love your challah, the golden crust and the braiding. love the symmetry and progression fotos. these are tops! wonder if i can use sesame seeds, instead of poppy seeds? also, maybe i can drop saffron? these are not readily available in the philippines.

Jescel said...

mushroom...yes, you can top it with sesame seeds. infact, that's my fave too, i just chose to show poppy seeds this time. I would imagine that you can omit the saffron, but it does give the bread it's nice yellow color and that nice saffron aroma.

Ning said...

First time to make challah but it looks so beautifully done! Congratulations! You're my inspiration! :)

alpha said...

mukhang ang sarap ng bread.

Donna-FFW said...

OMG !!! This looks beautiful. How talented are you! I love it. Your photos are amazing also!!

Grace said...

i do love challah, but i've never endeavored to make my own. your loaf is perfection. :)

Pinky said...

Those loaves look absolutely divine and oh-so-good-to-eat! You are one master baker. :)

Mochachocolata Rita said...

wow! your challah looks so beautiful! it's the same here in hong kong and in indonesia, bread = snack/diet food ^_^

Tangled Noodle said...

I can only dream of being a good enough baker to make something as wonderful as this! I'm definitely a bread girl but I've achieved a happy balance between rice and bread. My crime against Filipino food tradition is that I make more basmati rice than jasmine [gasp]!

ces said...

now i'm wanting to make my own too! yours simply looks so good! and i am with you on that busying oneself even while trying to relax!

Jescel said...

Tangled.. at least, I still prefer Jasmin over Basmati.. LOL!

Gmirage said...

Are those mohn on top?

I have yet to try baking breads...as sometimes they turn out hard :D Thanks for the recipe...

Clumbsy Cookie said...

You are so right! Homemade breads are the best! Your Hallah is gorgeous!

Zita said...

Superb...why do you need more practise, your braid is perfect :)

Arundathi said...

that challah looks amazing! thanks for dropping by my blog! you have a lovely space here...

JMom said...

Making bread has always been a relaxer for me. I like the process... it forces you to be patient. Your challah is beautiful!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Beautiful! I love Challah bread. Yours looks absolutely gorgeous and delicious!

Cheers,

Rosa

Bellini Valli said...

The best part of baking bread is the homey smells all round the house:D

ChefBliss.com said...

Thanks for the comment on my salmon!! Your bread looks so so so so good!!! Thanks!

Selba said...

Wow! Looks absolutely yummy!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

What a gorgeous looking Challah! It's like you grew up making it, it's so fantastic :)

Joie de vivre said...

Hi Jescal! Thanks so much for visiting! It's always fun to have someone new over. :) This is one of the prettiest challah's I've seen. I made one a few weeks ago but with sesame seeds instead. The color of yours is just gorgeous.

jesse said...

My lord, that looks absolute BEAUTIFUL. Looks better than some of the bread that professional bakeries turn out. YUM!

Munchkin Mommy said...

that is one gorgeous looking bread! i have yet to try making my own bread. and i am itching to give it a try! :)

dirtykitchensecrets said...

Fantastic! Great photographs! Thanks for sharing :)

Kevin said...

That challah look so good! What a perfect crust!

Cynthia said...

Excellent!

Juliana said...

Such a great bread! Love your pictures...the bread looks so yummy

noobcook said...

beautiful! I love the poppy seeds on top :)

Pam said...

I've never made Challah - yours looks fantastic.

kunthan said...

ho what a dish...ha.....

Every Thing At Your Feet

hello nice work keep up the great work..keep gooing..rockkk.. ing....

chcek out mine and how do you feal..pls..


kunthan

Culinary Wannabe said...

Yummy! How perfectly gorgeous it came out! Challah makes great french toast too if you have any leftovers - which I doubt you will!

Jescel said...

You're right.. no leftovers, but I do like making challah french toast. Yum!

Arfi Binsted said...

WOW!! the bread looks so perfectly baked and risen beautifully. I love the plait, you did it neatly, Jescel! Wonderful!

thess said...

Send a piece my way, please? That looks so goooood!

foodiejenn said...

I am not a bread lover, but this one makes me want to taste it, ang sarap tignan, nakaka-attract.

My entry is here. Hope you can check it out. Have a great week ahead.

Ben said...

You are right. Time flies when you are busy, especially when you are doing something you enjoy. This bread looks amazing! Thanks for sharing it with the homemade gang :)

paoix said...

Jescel, my gf loooves challah i think this is on the list of things to make. thanks :)

ThePurpleFoodie said...

The Challah looks absolutely gorgeous!