A traditional food eaten on the Sabbath and on holidays, the Challah bread is a beautifully woven work of edible art. It has many meanings and preparations, and as a nod to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah – New Years – I decided to try my hand at making some myself, with a bit of a grilled twist. Traditionally one would make two loaves, but as this was my first time, I only made one.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast and the ¼ cup of flour. Add the warm water and mix until it is smooth. Leave this to sit for about 15 minutes or until the flour mixture begins to rise. (Like bread would)
After the 15 minutes, add the eggs, oil, sugar and salt to the puffy flour and yeast mixture until it is well combined. Then add the flour and mix with a dough hook (if using a stand mixer), your hands or a wooden spoon. You will know if the dough is too firm or too wet when mixing. Fix this by adding warm water or flour, one tablespoon at a time.
When you have a slightly cohesive mass, kneed the dough on a clean work surface until it is smooth. You do not want to overwork the dough, so kneed for no more than 5 minutes.
Put your smooth dough into a warm clean bowl and cover it with a tea towel to rise for approximately 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. When it has risen enough, roll the dough out into a long snake. Cut that snake in half and repeat until you have at least four snakes. (The traditional Challah has 6 braids)
To braid your Challah, lay two of the snakes horizontally and two vertically. Weave the snakes so that you have the beginnings of a basket weave, then get creative with your braiding. I twisted the corners with each other in a circle, but you can do whatever comes naturally to you. There are also many tutorials online on braiding bread, follow one of them if you see a pattern you like.
Once the bread is braided cover the loaf again with your tea towel and allow it to raise for another 2 to 3 hours. You want it to triple in size again. When the dough dents and does not spring back when pressed, it is ready for baking.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat your grill to 320°F and prepare it for indirect cooking. Beat the egg with a little salt and brush the loaf with the egg wash. Bake the bread on a baking sheet with a little parchment paper, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top. Make sure that your parchment is smaller than the baking sheet, you don’t want a fire in the grill.
Let the bread cool on a rack and serve with your dinner.
This bread is very thick and strong, although that may have been the yeast I used. It was very tasty and a great accompaniment to the meal I shared with friends. Enjoy.
(Also I forgot the egg wash)