Sesame Challah Bread

So I bought a classical guitar off Craigslist. She’s a little shabby and scratched up but she’s hangin’ in there.

So far I’d say I’m conquering Row, Row, Row your Boat at a mastery level.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan is probably rolling over in his grave, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.

I named the guitar Martha.

It’s fitting.

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But let’s get on with the recipe, eh?

You may think breaking bad is cool, but let’s talk about breaking bread. Mmmkay I know, not as edgy, but arguably more delicious.

Challah bread is a bit of a paradox– it’s got a crispy exterior that really maintains its chewiness, but when you bite down, the inside is dense but somehow still pillowy-soft. It’s eggy and salty and subtly sweet and…and….and I could go on an on about all the reasons why I’ve declared it’s impossible to just snack on ONE slice.

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It’s the perfect transformable bread– sure you can eat it plain (and happily so) but what about all the tasty salvaged combinations that follow? After blotting the drool off my bib, delicious french toast and superlative Thanksgiving stuffing come to mind immediately.

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Plus, braiding the bread is like 10 times more fun than braiding your hair. Because you get to eat it afterwards. It’s not as hard as it looks, trust me; I’m about as good of a braider as I am a guitar player. But I whipped this out in a few minutes using a video I found on tha interwebz, and with the swift click of your mouse, you can too. I believe in you. And I for damn sure believe in this bread. I have so many  memories of cutting into a warm loaf of challah on a Friday evening for Shabbat with my Mom’s best friend and her family.

So, can I get a Challa-lujah?!

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Homemade Challah Bread

Makes 1 large loaf (or 2 small)

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (equal to one packet)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup veggie oil or other neutral oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 egg white
  • Sprinkle of sesame seeds
  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and the water. Give it a gentle stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes. When a thin foamy layer forms on top, you’re good to go.
  2. Meanwhile, in a standing mixer, whisk remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar, flour, and salt until combined.  Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and using a spoon (we’re going old school with our arms, baby), create a well in the center and drop in the oil, eggs, and the egg yolk (egg white is fo’ later). Mix until a stringy dough begins to come together.
  3. Pour in the water/yeast/sugar mixture and stir until until dough becomes wet and stringy. Sounds delish, I know.
  4. Next, transfer the bowl back to the standing mixer and using the dough hook, knead for 6 to 8 minutes until a smooth, elastic dough forms. If you need more flour (aka dough is supa’ sticky like bubble gum), add it in 1 teaspoon at a time. Chu can also turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with those big ole’ arms for 10 minutes. Dough is done when it holds a ball shape. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel, place someplace warm (I used my oven with just the light turned on) and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. When it’s nice and puffy after sitting, turn the dough ball onto a clean surface. Bust out those grammar school skills, because now you’re going to give that baby a nice pretty braid. There are tons of ways to do this, just YouTube that shiz. It’s pretty hard to explain in words and I’m a visual learner so guess you are now too. Once you’ve got it looking spiffy, place it on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Pop that baby back in the oven with the light on to puff up (this is called “proofing” in the baking world) for one more hour.
  6. After another hour, take out your challah (should be puffier than when you put it in) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now take the egg white and mix it with 1 tablespoon of water to make the “egg wash” which gives the challah its dreamy-licious shine. Brush the challah with the egg wash and sprinkle it with sesame seeds. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning it around in the oven once halfway through. It’s finished when it’s dark brown, let it cool, then slice and get your grub on.

1 Comment

  1. Cory, this bread is beautiful!!! If you will make me a loaf next time you visit, I will loan (nay, give) you all my 1960s guitar music (hmmmm, if I haven’t already…..) for you and Martha to play with! Songs like, “Where Have All the Challahs Gone”, “Only Challahs Can Break Your Heart”, and “How Do You Mend a Broken Challah” come to mind. Love you, Mama Beans

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