Braided breads are so beautiful to look at. I had been wanting to make one for quite sometime now. Braiding is technical I must say and I am not the artist type. So I put it off thinking mine would never be any good.
Every time I searched a bread recipe I would definitely open the Challah Bread link and just look at the beautiful breads made by people. Then one day last week when I was looking at these beautifully breads I decided to give it try. Tell myself so what if I fail. Another thought that pushed me was that a dear Friend was coming over and I wanted to make something special for her.
So there I started making the bread. The recipe makes 2 loaves. The first one was not at all neat. Looking sad I decided I needed a bit more help. I looked at utube videos. They are best thing when one is stuck. I paused the video and slowly followed the steps. The second one was neat. So happy that I made it.
The bread is beautiful in taste spiced with raisins, caraway seeds and cumin seeds. Warm out of oven I cut a slice and put some butter on it and drizzled some honey it was delicious!
My Friend came in evening. I was very happy with the bread. She was equally excited to see the golden brown bread. We both had a few slices before we headed out for our walk. Home made bread is indeed one of great comforts of life.
- 1/2 cup raisins, dark or golden or a combination
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 11 grams active dry yeast
- 5 cups bread flour, more for dusting work surface
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, more for oiling bowl and pans
- 4 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet you like your challah)
- 2 eggs, plus 2 egg whites (at room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- 2 egg yolks for brushing the bread
1. Soak the raisins in 2 cups warm water for 30 minutes. Drain water and put in a colander to dry out.
2. In a small pan, toast 2 tablespoons sesame, the caraway and the cumin seeds over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
3. In a small bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 teaspoon honey with 1/4 cup warm water. Let it foam up may take 10 to 15 minutes.
4. In a bowl combine flour with salt and give it a good stir.
5. Make a well in centre of the flour add olive oil, remaining honey, eggs and warm yeast water and add 1/2 cup.
6. Start mixing with a spoon, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Depending on size of your eggs you may need another 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Get a sticky wet dough.
7. Dust a clean kitchen counter generously with flour. Tip the dough out on the surface. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons flour on top of the dough and some extra on your hands and then start kneading. Ideally you won’t need to add in more flour but if dough is too sticky add 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough for at least 5 minutes.
8. Add the seeds in centre of the dough and kneaded them in to the bread. This will take 2-3 minutes to spread the seeds well in the dough.
9. Add the raisins and again gently kneaded into the dough, you don’t want the raisins to bread with pressure of the hand.
10. Using oiled hands, transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free spot until the dough is doubled in size, in warm country like mine it was done in 40 minutes, in colder places may take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
11. Lightly oil 2 small cookie sheets and dust them with cornmeal.
12. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes.
13. Using the cut half dough further cut it into 3 smaller equal size balls. Roll each piece into an 12-inch-long rope. Using the 3 ropes now braid the bread. Place the 3 ropes next to each other vertically on the counter top. Think of this the way you would with a hair braid (if you’ve ever done that). Start with one of the outside ropes, the right rope, and cross it over the center rope. Now that right hand rope has become the new middle. Now move to the left side and cross that rope over the new middle. The left rope has now become the new middle. Move back to the right side and cross over the new middle. And just repeat. Tuck the ends under the rope to get a neat end.
15. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
16. Transfer each braid to a baking sheet and cover each loaf with a large inverted bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes to 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk. (The risen loaves can be frozen, wrapped, for up to 2 weeks; top and bake just before serving.)
17. Heat oven to 180 C. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and sprinkle generously with the sesame seed. Let it stand uncovered for 10 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more.
18. Bake the loaves side-by-side in the center of the oven for 35 -40 minutes, until they’re golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the loaves to racks and let cool before serving or slicing.
19. If using an electric stand mixer. Attach the dough hook. Put the flour in, add all the eggs, honey, yeast mixture, olive oil, and the 1/2 cup water. Start the machine on slow speed until a very soft dough forms. If it is stiff, add warm water a tablespoon at a time. Add toasted seeds and mix at medium-low speed until the dough is supple and smooth, 10 minutes. Mix in raisins. Run for another 2 minutes. The remaining process is same as above.