Challah: America’s Test Kitchen Knows Best

I’ve had a few experiences baking challah at home.  Unfortunately with less than perfect results.  When it was time to bake Challah for Rosh Hashanah, I decided to turn to America’s Test Kitchen, fully trusting their multi-tested and scrutinized recipes.  And I have to say, I was not disappointed!  This challah turned out light in texture, easy to make (no hand kneading), and delicious.  I might want to experiment by adding a bit more sugar, raisins, and perhaps another egg yolk for a more traditional, sweeter challah taste.


Braided Challah
from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Ingredients

3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
oil
2 tablespoons water

Directions

1.  Whisk together 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt with electric mixer fit with dough hook attachments. (The recipe calls to use a stand mixer but I don’t have one. Hand held electric mixer worked just fine.)

2.  Combine together water, melted butter, two whole eggs and one egg yolk.

3.  Pour in the egg mixture into the dry ingredients while whisking at a low speed until the dough forms.  Increase the speed to medium-low and continue mixing the dough for 8 minutes.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but will stick slightly to the bottom.  If the dough is too stick, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour a little at a time.

4.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large oil coated bowl.  Turn the ball of dough to coat evenly with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles, about 90 minutes.

5.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface.  I ended up dividing the dough into three parts and braiding it to form a round loaf.  You can bake 2 challah from this recipe or do a double braid.  Once the challah is shaped, lightly oil it, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45-75 minutes or until it doubles.

6.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together 1 egg white and water.  Brush egg white wash over the challah and bake for 30-40 minutes, until it is golden and baked through.  America’s Test Kitchen recommends internal temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

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2 responses to “Challah: America’s Test Kitchen Knows Best

  1. Thank you for posting the recipe, Anna! I use a similar recipe from Fine Cooking magazine for my almost-weekly challah baking. I just wanted to point out that traditional challah would not include any dairy ingredients such as butter because it is intended to be served at the Shabbat (Sabbath) meal which historically has included a meat dish, and mixing dairy and meat runs counter to the laws of kashruth. However, I am sure your challah was delicious! I wonder if the butter makes it more moist. I use oil and mine is always just a tad on the dry side.

  2. Irina, that's a fantastic point! I didn't realize that most (all?) recipes for challah that I have tried did in fact use oil and not butter. I am curious to see how this recipe works with oil instead – do you care to test it and let me know? :) Since I do not keep kosher, the butter is not a concern for me. Thanks for the comment.

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