Grandma's Challah

Why do challah recipes always tell you the yield in loaves, not how many a loaf serves? My guess is that an 8-cup-of-flour challah is supposed to be enough for at least 12 people. But when a challah’s really good you never know! In my family I sometimes think I need a personal challah for everyone (and in fact when I bake challah with my grandchildren I give them each a lump of dough and they actually do get their own personal challahs). My challah recipe yields 2 regular size or one enormous loaf. But one eight cup of flour recipe is never enough for 6 adults and 3 kids, especially when there’s going to be a break-the-fast for 17 adults plus several more children. I make at least two of these and only sometimes are there any leftovers for French toast the next day. I really should think about three. That’s my task for tomorrow. Thanks to a big freezer. Here’s the recipe: CHALLAH 2 packages active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water (about 105 degrees; feels slightly warm to touch) 1/2 cup sugar 8 cups flour, approximately 1 tablespoon salt 5 large eggs 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1-1/2 cups warm water (about 105 degrees) poppy seeds or sesame seeds, optional In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. While the yeast is resting, place 7-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add 4 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the 1-1/2 cups water. Mix using the dough hook until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and blend in thoroughly. Knead (at medium-high speed) until the dough is smooth and elastic (3-4 minutes). Add more flour as needed to make the dough smooth and soft, but not overly sticky. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Remove the dough to a floured surface. Cut the dough into 3 or 6 pieces depending on whether you are going to make one large or two smaller loaves. Make long strands out of each piece. Braid the strands and seal the ends together by pressing on the dough. Place the bread(s) on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the last egg. Brush the surface with some of the egg. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. While the dough is in the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes for one large bread, 22-25 minutes for two smaller breads. They should be firm and golden brown. Makes one large or two smaller challahs NOTE: you can make the dough in a food processor — cut the recipe in half Ask Ronnie a question: http://ronniefein.com/ask To comment: http://ronniefein.com/submit

Why do challah recipes always tell you the yield in loaves, not how many a loaf serves?

My guess is that an 8-cup-of-flour challah is supposed to be enough for at least 12 people. But when a challah’s really good you never know! In my family I sometimes think I need a personal challah for everyone (and in fact when I bake challah with my grandchildren I give them each a lump of dough and they actually do get their own personal challahs).

My challah recipe yields 2 regular size or one enormous loaf. But one eight cup of flour recipe is never enough for 6 adults and 3 kids, especially when there’s going to be a break-the-fast for 17 adults plus several more children. I make at least two of these and only sometimes are there any leftovers for French toast the next day.

I really should think about three. That’s my task for tomorrow. Thanks to a big freezer.

Here’s the recipe:

CHALLAH

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (about 105 degrees; feels slightly warm to touch)

1/2 cup sugar

8 cups flour, approximately

1 tablespoon salt

5 large eggs

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-1/2 cups warm water (about 105 degrees)

poppy seeds or sesame seeds, optional

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly. While the yeast is resting, place 7-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add 4 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the 1-1/2 cups water. Mix using the dough hook until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and blend in thoroughly. Knead (at medium-high speed) until the dough is smooth and elastic (3-4 minutes). Add more flour as needed to make the dough smooth and soft, but not overly sticky. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Remove the dough to a floured surface. Cut the dough into 3 or 6 pieces depending on whether you are going to make one large or two smaller loaves. Make long strands out of each piece. Braid the strands and seal the ends together by pressing on the dough. Place the bread(s) on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the last egg. Brush the surface with some of the egg. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. While the dough is in the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes for one large bread, 22-25 minutes for two smaller breads. They should be firm and golden brown. Makes one large or two smaller challahs

NOTE: you can make the dough in a food processor — cut the recipe in half

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