Basic challah, braided with linked loops. Easy peasy, and so pretty when baked.
What's really fun about making Challah, is that once you have a basic recipe, the rest is so easy. This particular challah dough is inspired by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen fame. She uses flaky sea salt and olive oil for this challah - I've amped up the recipe and added larger eggs, extra egg yolks, and some cream/milk/half&half to the egg wash for an extra-shiny result. If you don't have any flaky sea salt - use Kosher salt and reduce the salt in the recipe to 1.5 tsp. I also love the fact this dough is easy to make by hand. You just need a bowl, a wooden spoon, and about 5 minutes of gentle kneading to create a beautiful result. And, the linked loops technique is super easy, but gorgeous after baking!
WHAT YOU NEED: Large bowl and wooden spoon Bench scraper or sharp knife Sheet pan Pastry brush Oven
INGREDIENTS: 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast (I use SAF) or 1 package instant yeast like Fleishmann's 1/3 cup honey* 2/3 cup warm water 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (64 gm) + more for oiling your bowl 2 Jumbo eggs + 1 additional yolk 2 tsp flaky sea salt (I use Maldon) 4 cups (500gm) all purpose flour (use unbleached so no metallic aftertaste) + more for dusting
Egg wash: 1 egg + 1 TB cream, half&half, or milk, beaten together until smooth
* (if allergic or averse, you can use the same amount of sorghum syrup, cane syrup, date syrup, or even maple syrup; avoid agave or molasses - they lend too strong a flavor)
INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Put the yeast, a few drops of honey and the water in a bowl, stir briefly, and let sit until yeast is foamy. 2. Add the oil, eggs and egg yolk, rest of the honey, and salt, and stir until eggs are broken up and oil is incorporated. 3. Add the flour, and stir until a shaggy mass. 4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for 10 minutes until dough feels like a baby's bottom. Seriously, it will! 5. Clean your dirty bowl, dry it, thinly coat with olive oil and put your dough in, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until doubled in size. 6. Turn the risen dough back onto a lightly floured counter and cut into 5 equal pieces. 7. With your hands, roll each piece into a rope about 12" long. 8. Form one strand into a circle, pinching the edges together. Weave the next one through it and pinch the ends - you are starting to form a chain. When you get to the 5th piece, use it to link both ends of the chain of dough together. Transfer this onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silpat/silicone mat. 9. Brush liberally with egg wash, invert a clean large bowl over the challah, and let rise for an hour. 10. Preheat oven to 375. When challah has risen, brush again with the egg wash, getting into the nooks and crannies. If desired sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds and a little flaky sea salt. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until deep golden brown - the center should be 195 degrees on an instant read thermometer. 11. Cool on a rack, and then share with family and friends.