I decided to make challah bread as a nod to my years being educated in a Jewish school. It was always one of my favourites and something I used to make rather a lot. There are lots of variations out there that use different quantities of sugar or honey but this is one I like. Feel free to remove the fruit if you're not a fan.
Time to get plaiting
You will need:
750g strong white flour
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp dry yeast
200ml boiling water
100ml cold water
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
75g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, currents and cranberries)
for the topping
sesame or poppy seeds
Dissolve the yeast, sugar and salt in the water and add the oil. Leave for 5 - 10 minutes until the yeast starts to foam slightly.
Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well. I use a hand mixer for this but you can do it by hand if you want.
Mix in around 3/4 of the flour and combine well. It should be sticky and stringy at this point. I gave up with the mixer around half way through the flour because it starts to travel up and makes a mess, so it was hands in at that point.
Turn out on to a floured surface. Add in the rest of the flour and knead for a good 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour. Since we own a new fangled eco style house which contains the worlds largest heat recovery system in the airing cupboard I stick my bread in to the top of our double oven with the bottom turned on to its lowest setting.
After an hour turn out again and punch it about a bit. If you're doing this with your children then you can complete the next stage if you want but you will get a better bread if you leave it to prove for another 30 - 40 minutes or so if you can.
Turn the bread out again and flatten slightly. Pour the fruit in to the middle and fold back on itself. Do not over knead at this point. If you want to do half without the fruit then split first and use less fruit.
Split the dough in two and plait in any way you wish. I went for a simple three strand which is suitable for a toddler to do and slightly more complex 6 strand option which isn't unless they're in mensa. There are lots of tutorials on the net for doing this if you have done it before. Youtube is worth its weight in gold when it comes to bread plaiting.
Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top of the bread. Top with sesame or poppy seeds as desired and cook for around 30 minutes at 160 degrees or until golden brown and hollow sounding if you tap the bottom.
|3 and 6 strand plaited challah|
Its rather nice served warm - ideal for afternoon tea
|Check out my irregular plaiting skills|
One day I'll teach Milly to bake bread. Maybe.