9-Braid Challah

It’s been a crazy week at my house. For various reasons my kids and grandkids have been here, on and off, for a week.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, despite the chaos, the noise and the clutter. I should tell you that at one point my two-year old grandson Remy looked into my refrigerator fruit bin and said “this is a mess. Grandma!”

Who cares! I love when they all come and we have dinner together and plates clatter and dishwashers dishwash and there is plenty of conversation and also lots of leftovers.

At one point, my grandson Zev, age 11, who bakes challah with me all the time, suggested that instead of the traditional 6-braid challah, or a bakery-style 4-braid challah or even an easy 3-braider, we do a 9-strand version. That is, braid three strands, like a classic braid, three times, and then braid those three braids together. That would make it a 9-strander, for sure. With that wonderful lumpy, bumpy surface that makes challah look so appealing.

Had to try that. So we did. The pre-baked challah looked perfect, and very interesting.

Alas, we didn’t braid the three 3-braiders tight enough and the bread opened up on top as it baked.

Still, it looked good to us. And even better, it tasted as wonderful as our usual challah.

And best of all, we had a good time working on it together.

Challah

For instructions on how to make a 6-braid challah, see: http://ronniefein.com/post/18188044789/baking-challah-i-posted-my-recipe-last-week-and

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
8-8-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees)
1 teaspoon water
poppy seeds or sesame seeds, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir, set aside and let rest for 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine 7-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt. In a small bowl, mix 4 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the lukewarm water. Add to the flour mixture. Add the yeast mixture. Blend ingredients thoroughly. Using the kneading hook, knead for 4-5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary to make sure the dough is not sticky. NOTE: you can make this dough in a food processor (halve the recipe). Cover the bowl of dough and put it in a warm place to rise for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 30 minutes or until doubled. Remove the dough to a floured surface. Cut dough in 3 or 6 pieces depending on whether you are making one large or two smaller loaves. Make long strands out of the pieces. Braid the strands. Place the braided dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the last egg with the teaspoon of water. Brush this over the surface of the bread. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes for large loaf, 22-25 minutes for smaller ones (they should be firm and golden brown).

To make a 9-braider: cut the dough into 9 equal pieces and roll each piece into a very long strand. Braid three strands at a time into a traditional braid, then braid the three braided strands.