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Holla Challah!

challah braided loaf recipeChallah is said with a 'holla!' attitude in this house. I apologize to Jewish families who eat challah as a sabbath bread, but I really can't even think of this bread without the tune of Hollaback Girl rising in my mind. It doesn't matter how you say it or whether you think of the song: challah is a rich beautiful bread worthy of baking and eating regularly.

If I am working alone, I form the dough into a double braid as is traditional.

If Lil is hosting a play date, I often make a batch of challah dough, let it rise and then divide into four or six pieces. I help the children shape braids, spirals, letters, or 'rocks'. They rise a second time while the kids play. We bake their creations and watch the shapes change. Finally, we eat the delicately crumbed breads together, sharing for some kids their first yeast bread baking experience.

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Holla Challah makes one large loaf or four-six smaller loaves

adapted from the The Book of Bread

1 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast 3/4 cup warm water 1 tablespoon sugar or honey 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 eggs, lightly beaten 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour 1 1/2 - 2 cups bread flour

optional glazes: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water, poppy seeds

1. Stir yeast and sugar into warm water in a mixing bowl. Allow to proof for five minutes.

2. Add eggs, salt, vegetable oil, and white whole wheat flour. Begin stirring, or start KitchenAid /stand mixer with dough hook if you have one.

3. Add bread flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly.

4. Turn onto a floured board and knead at least ten minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. (Alternately, use dough hook of stand mixer to knead for 5 minutes.)

5. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until double in bulk, approximately 1 hour.

6. Punch down dough and allow to rest for a few minutes.

7. Divide dough into portions for kids to shape. Help them make shapes and place on a Silpat lined cookie sheet with plenty of space between creations.

8. For a double braid, divide into two portions, one approximately a third of the dough and the other two thirds. Further subdivide each part into three equal parts. Roll each into a rope. Braid the larger three ropes, tucking ends under the braid, and place on a Silpat lined cookie sheet. Braid the smaller ropes, tuck in ends, and settle on top of the bigger braid.

9. Cover and allow to rise again until double in bulk, approximately forty five minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

10. Brush risen dough with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.

11. Bake ten minutes at 400 degrees F. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35-40 minutes longer. Cool on a rack.

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Get ready for some meat curing posts - I'm participating in Charcutepalooza. Read my article about the year of meat project on Technorati.

Challah recipe added to Hearth and Soul blog hop.