There’s something about throwing around dough, store about the sticky, diagnosis squishy feeling between my fingers, about the fine layer of bread flour on my hands that really makes my day. No kidding.
I’ve come to realize that making artisan bread is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s special. It’s a time when I can be quiet with my thoughts, rhythmically kneading the dough until it just feels right. It is a game of patience, but the rewards are plenty. (I mean, who doesn’t love warm, fresh-baked bread?!)
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m hosting our family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year, and I’m totally excited. I’m trying out new recipes, busting out the big platters and baking bread from scratch. Yup, that’s right – bringing out the big guns.
I’ve decided that challah would be the perfect addition to our Thanksgiving feast – it’s beautifully braided and perfectly sweet (and this recipe makes enough for each family to take home a loaf!).
This Thursday, break (or bake) bread with those you love. Challah! It’s Thanksgiving week!
½ cup canola oil
½ cup honey (I used Orange Blossom)
2 teaspoons salt
3 whole eggs
2 cups water
3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or sifted whole wheat flour)
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Egg wash (1 egg, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon water)
Pepitas or various seeds for garnish
Hydrate the yeast in warm (NOT HOT) water and wait for it to dissolve (the water will feel silky). While the yeast is dissolving, whisk together the oil, honey, salt and eggs. Then add the yeast mixture; stir to combine.
Pour the yeast-egg mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment and mixing on low, add the whole-wheat pastry flour and the all-purpose flour alternately, a little bit at a time, until all has been incorporated and a thick batter has formed.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and switch to the dough hook attachment. Mix on medium-low until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, is no longer sticky but is still soft and moist.
Transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl, cover the bowl and place it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the dough into quarters, and then cut each quarter into thirds (three pieces will make one braid, so you’ll end up with four loaves).
Take one piece of dough and, using your hands, form a rectangle (about ¼-inch thick). Starting on a long edge, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam closed. Roll the log until it is about 12-18 inches long. Repeat the process with the other pieces of dough.
Using three logs at a time, braid the dough, pinching both ends and folding them under the braid. Transfer braids to the baking sheets and let them rise again, about 45 minutes.
Brush the braids with the egg wash and sprinkle each with desired seeds. (I used pepitas in honor of Thanksgiving… and pumpkins.)
Bake the braids at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
*I do NOT recommend using Air Bake cookie sheets for bread. The bottom will not crisp or brown.