Challah Bread Recipe
A gorgeous easy bread recipe giving you homemade hot bread straight from the oven.
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For years, and I do mean years I have been desperate to bake my own bread but every time I try the results were far from what I wanted to achieve. There were many problems, sometimes it didn't rise or when it did and the recipe told me to punch it back down I ended up with bread that was flat as it didn't rise the second time. I tried baking it from start to finish in a bread machine, I tried mixing it by hand, I tried doing the dough in the bread machine and then baking it it in the oven, I used dried yeast, I used fast yeast, I used live yeast, I tried many recipes - and I was terribly, terribly frustrated and I felt like a failure - I couldn't believe it was soooo hard to just bake some bread!
Don't get me wrong my family ate whatever I cooked but for me it just wasn't right and I yearned to be a happy bread baker. Finally I discovered what I was looking for, you can't imagine the joy I felt when baking this bread and it worked.
First of all when my live yeast actually started to bubble away letting me know that it was in fact live and quite possibly this could be the start of something wonderful, then when I took the dough out of the bread machine to find that it was warm and alive and supple without being sticky. My next surprise came when I found that the dough was extremely easy to handle, warm, smooth elastic dough and with it the ability to plait it as easily as braiding your own daughter's hair. Things were looking really good! Then the warm dough rose like it always says it should in all the recipes that I had read, it never had before, and finally I had baked bread the way I always wanted to. And if I can do it you can too.
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon of Warm Water
- 15 grammes Live Yeast
- 1½ teaspoons of Salt
- 1 large Free Range Egg
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 3¼ cup Bread Flour
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- 1 Free Range Egg Yolk
- 2 tablespoons Cold Water
- ½ teaspoon Salt or Poppyseeds
Using Live Yeast
I used live yeast when I made this bread, I'm sure if you go into your local bakers they would be more than willing to sell you some over the counter and it will hardly cost you anything at all.
When I've brought my yeast home I break it up into small pieces, about 15g pieces, wrap them in clingfilm and pop them in a plastic bag for storing in the freezer. When you want to use it just take it out about an hour beforehand, the yeast I used last night had been in the freezer for about 2-3 months and was perfectly fine.
- Place the ¾ cup and 1 tablespoon of warm water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the live yeast into the bread machine pan, give it a quick stir and place in a warm place to activate the yeast (see my Tip at the bottom of the page). After about 20 minutes check to see if there are any bubbles coming up, if this is happening then your yeast is live and your bread will rise.
- Put the bread pan back into your machine, add the 3¼ cups of bread flour to cover the liquid, plus the 1½ teaspoons of salt and 1 egg.
- Select the Dough setting, but you're not going to let it do a complete routine, keep an eye on the dough and once it's finished mixing it all together and stops to allow the dough to rise, it is at this point you're going to take it out of the bread machine.
- Lightly flour your work surface and divide the dough into three equal portions. Roll each third into long sausages, this dough is really easy to work with, not sticky just wonderfully supply and elastic. I squeezed it into a sausage shape and then took both ends and bounced it up and down (great fun) until it was roughly the right length (just over a foot in length should do it).
- Squeeze the ends to seal together and then plait them gently and loosely, squeeze the other ends and place on a piece of baking paper and onto your tray.
- Cover the dough and let rise in warm place about 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched).
- Heat oven to 180ºC / 160ºC if on Fan setting or Gas Mark 4.
- Mix the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of cold water then brush the loaf. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt or poppyseeds.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
The smell was so good and there is something so comforting about eating freshly baked bread spread with butter while it's still warm, and I have to say much as I love poppyseeded bread the more traditional use of salt flakes work really well with the soft slightly sweet bread.
I have always been worried about finding a place warm enough to put the dough while it's rising but I suddenly had a brainwave while making this bread and want to share it with you. I have a Sharp Convection & Grill Microwave which is fantastic, I now put the tray with the bread on top of the microwave and set the Convection Oven to heat to 180ºC and set to preheat for a few minutes before turning it off, that is just enough to warm the top of the microwave and the tray that the dough is sitting in and my bread rose just beautifully.