As promised in the first Holla for Challah post, I have a second recipe that I use for larger batches (as in, making two or three loaves at a time, rather than one large loaf). This recipe, miraculously, doesn’t take many more ingredients (namely, eggs) than the first recipe, and still comes out fabulously. In fact, I have more luck making these babies both photogenic and delicious.
Why would I want three loaves of bread instead of one, you ask? Firstly, get out.
Just kidding. Legitimate question, I suppose. First of all, this bread is a bit more labor-intensive in its shaping and waiting than say, a brown bread loaf that goes into a pan. If I’m going to put effort into the bread, I like to get a lot out of it.
Secondly, as I mentioned in the previous post, challah makes the best French toast and bread pudding, hands down. It’s flaky, eggy (without tasting eggy), and soaks up custard like a boss without getting horribly soggy. I love to keep the extra loaves in the freezer for later use, or give one away as a thank you gift while still keeping one or two in the house.
Speaking of shaping, you can get as fancy or not fancy as you want with the braiding, as for the first recipe. I’ve done it with single three-strand braids for each bread, as pictured. I’ve also divided the dough into six portions of three, and made three loaves of double braids put together. Whew!
Just do me a favor and braid them somehow – even if they look ugly going in the oven, they’re going to come out looking beautiful and tasting great. Trust me. (They also get less “ugly” with practice.)
One last note: flour. Make sure you’re gradually adding flour in this recipe, and not dumping the highest amount listed on the ingredients all at once. Why?
When making any kind of bread, and especially one with a lighter crumb (like this one), too much flour can make your bread dry and tough. You’re going more for the feeling of the bread, as described in the recipe, rather than a precise amount of stuff listed in the ingredients. Altitude, humidity, and other climate factors determine how much flour you might need (e.g., you might find that you need less flour in the drier, colder months.)
And for Pete’s sake, aerate your flour before you dump it into the bowl. Packed flour and aerated flour have entirely different weights, and can be the difference between fluffy and dense, dry bread. You can do this by:
- Sifting before measuring, using a sieve.
- Scooping the flour into your measuring cup using a spoon.
- Scooping and dumping the flour back into the container a few times with your measuring cup before getting what you need.
- Not really aerating, but actually using a kitchen scale and measuring your flour by weight, you fancy European, you.
The more bread you make, the more you’re able to recognize when the dough has enough flour.
Ready to try another challah? Let’s do it!
Challah for a Crowd
This recipe makes three medium or two large loaves. You can substitute milk for the eggwash, although the browning and shine will not be as pronounced in the final bread.
you will need:
- 7-8 ½ c all-purpose or bread flour (you will need less bread flour if you’re using it). You can also sub up to 2 c whole wheat flour
- 1 ¾ c warm (not hot) water
- 4 ½ tsp active dry yeast
- ½ c honey
- 4 large eggs
- 1 stick (½ c) butter, melted and cooled (if you’re going for kosher, use a neutral oil)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- Eggwash: 1 egg or egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp water (see note)
- optional toppings: white or black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and honey. Let stand 5-10 minutes until foamy and smelling of bread.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the eggs, melted butter, and salt. Stir in as much of the flour as the mixture will readily absorb (no dry spots, and is still relatively easy to mix in), usually about 5 cups on my end. If you’re using whole wheat flour, start with the wheat and end with the white.
- If using a stand mixer: With the hook attachment, knead the bread on low speed, gradually adding more flour as necessary to get an elastic, slightly sticky (but not so much that it sticks to your hands like a swamp) dough. The dough should still be soft and pillowy when you remove it from the bowl.
- If hand-kneading: And I do recommend hand-kneading for making bread at first, or when you just feel like using those arm muscles and working, so you know what the dough feels like throughout the process and when it’s done. Lightly flour a clean work surface, like a countertop or table, and turn out your bread dough from your mixing bowl. You can either stretch and fold your dough (literally what it sounds like – stretch out sections towards you, and fold them back into the main loaf) or continually sprinkle flour and fold the dough onto itself using your hands until the dough is elastic (slowly reforms its shape after pressing it), slightly sticky, and pillowy.
- Lightly grease a large, clean bowl with a neutral oil. Form the dough into a ball by folding the ends underneath, turn the dough in the bowl so all sides are coated with oil, cover with a tea towel, and allow to sit in a warm place (like your kitchen, or a sunny window) until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you press a finger into the dough and make an indent that slowly pushes itself back.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and, if using a baking stone, place stone on the middle rack. (If you’re not using a stone, you can preheat a little later.)
- Punch down your dough and knead lightly into a ball. Turn out the dough ball onto a lightly floured clean workspace, and divide the dough into the number of loaves you want. (I’ll default to three loaves with one braid each here.) Cover with your tea towel, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a small bowl with water and a brush.
- Divide each portion into three pieces, and roll each portion into a long rope, about 18-20 inches in length. (Yes, I pull out my measuring tape, and so should you.) Brush the tops of three of the ropes with water and press together to make them stick, then braid the ropes, brushing the bottoms with water and pressing together to stick. Repeat with remaining loaves. Allow to rest on a floured board (if using a baking stone) or baking sheet for 10 minutes until puffy, but not doubled.
- Prepare your eggwash by lightly beating an egg with 1 tbsp water. Brush loaves with eggwash, and sprinkle with seeds or toppings if using. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped and are browned. Remove immediately from sheets or stone and allow to cool on wire racks. Challahhhhhhhhhh!