Easter dinner is always at my mom and dad’s farm with all the fixin’s – ham, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, lemon jello salad, deviled eggs, and pies (rhubarb and coconut cream pie – my favorite). This year I struggled with what to bing since my mom and sisters had everything covered. I finally remembered a Challah Bread recipe that I made when I took a bread baking class at The Minneapolis Baking Institute several years ago. I love making this bread because the dough is so easy to make and handle. This egg based dough is rich with a hint of sweetness. Perfect for a Easter meal!
Being on the farm during Easter seems so appropriate with all the baby animals running around. A nice reminder of what Easter is all about! Have a great holiday!
Your Favorite Chick from the North – Jill
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water (105 – 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
3 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 tablespoon sugar in 3/4 cups lukewarm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid).
3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
4. At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Let rise another hour.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using.
7. Bake in middle of oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.
Note: The secrets to good challah are simple: Use two coats of egg wash to get that laquer-like crust and don’t overbake it.
Makes: 1 loaf