I should have made this for Jewish New Year, but I missed the date by about a week. I was nervous about braiding the dough, but it wasn’t as hard as I was anticipating. If nothing else, this is a beautiful loaf of bread to create.
This recipe is from Cooking Light, December 2009.
Substitution made, noted below.
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1 c warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
3 tblsp honey
dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tblsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
14.25 oz bread flour (about 3 cups), divided
1 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp poppy seeds – I used sesame seeds
Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand 5 minutes. Add melted butter, salt and egg; stir well with a whisk.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 13 oz (about 2 3/4 cups) flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tblsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two finger into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise and additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rise 15 minutes.
Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25 inch rope, with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine 1 tsp water and egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with poppy seeds. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
Holla Sweet Challah! Husband said this reminded him of Hawaiian bread. To me it was similar, but not as sweet. I would love to serve this sweet bread with a thick rich soup on a rainy day. (I’m dreaming and ready for fall…)