Sunday, March 17, 2013

Challah, well almost! Jeweish Braided Bread

Okay, I have finally baked my first Bread ever. This has been a dream till yesterday.  Crossing one small huddle at a time has been a funny journey, first I did not know where to buy Yeast .. Yes, I did not! Some said go to a Bakery and ask them to give you some, some said you will find it at the local stores, where it was never found, some said go to the Supermarket, but most of the Supermarkets in this part of India did not have Yeast. When I finally found Yeast, it was at Dorabjee’s  where again I found water based Baker’s Yeast and a pack of Active Dry Yeast, the same confusion once more, I had no clue which one to buy.

The weekend before last I bought a pack of the Active Dry Yeast I found rather than the pack of water based Yeast, which was close to its expiration date; Since then I have been thinking of baking a Bread when I get time. Once I bought the Yeast, I wasted one more week as some told me that the temperature at which Yeast is proofed is 60C / 140F – I had no clue how to achieve that, I do not have a Meat Thermometer in my Kitchen neither does my Microwave Oven have 60C / 140F, finally I came across a video which told me the water can be Microwave’d for 15 seconds, but when I touched it I did not find it warm after 10, hence I Micorwave’d it for 20 seconds. Oh Yes, and the final and the most difficult huddle to cross was I do not have a Conventional Oven! Believe me you! I have a fully loaded Microwave from Samsung with all the possible features but not an OTG. To make your own self believe that your hard work will not go down the drain is a difficult deal indeed! I made this bread in my Microwave Oven Convection mode and it came out perfect.

I wanted to make Focaccia as my first bread but somehow that did not work, though it is going to my second Bread for sure. Yesterday ‘A’ went for his Cricket match and I had a full morning and a part of the afternoon to myself, hence it was the best time to bake this Bread.  Don’t think that you actually need an entire morning and afternoon to make this bread, I had many other household chores as well. It does take time to make a bread at home but most of the time is needed for the dough of your bread to rise, during that time the dough can be absolutely left on its own and one can continue running other errands all through that time. This Bread needs 2.5 hours of rising. 2 hours first, punched down, kneaded and braided and 30 minutes after that. This Braided Bread is called 'Challah', a Jewish bread prepared during the Holidays; only I used lesser number of Eggs and regular Salt.

Here is what you will need to make Braided Bread:
(This Recipe is from Great Bread Every time Cookbook adapted by The Little White Kitchen and measures modified by Color & Spices – I followed Color & Spices’s measurements to make this Bread, though I modified it a teeny-weeny bit)

Active Dry Yeast : 1 tbsp
Warm Water : ¼ th Cup (I Microwave’d mine for 30 seconds, I think it was higher than 60C/140F when I used it, but it still gave me fantastic results)
Sugar : 1 tsp
All Purpose Flour : 4 Cups (3.5 Cups into the dough & ½ Cup for Dusting) – (The recipe says Bread Flour, I am not sure if it is any different from All Purpose Flour, but I used All Purpose Flour & the result was good)
Warm Milk : 1 Cup (Mine was cold, hence I Microwave’d it for 1 minute)
Eggs : 2 (1 to go in the dough + 1 for Egg wash)
Sugar : 4 tbsp
Butter : 2 tbsp
Salt to taste (I used Salted Butter, hence used very little Salt)
Cooking Oil for greasing
Sesame Seeds

How to make Braided Bread:

Yeast Proofing : Add 1 tbsp of Yeast to 1/4th Cup of Warm Water and 1 tsp of Sugar, mix and let it rest for 10 minutes. Yeast was in the dormant state, the warm water wakes it up and the Sugar feeds it. After 10 minutes a foamy mix will form from the Yeast, Water and Sugar indicating that is has been proofed

To this foamy mix, add 1 Egg (beaten), 2 tbsps melted Butter, 4 tbsp Sugar, Salt to taste and 1 Cup of Warm Milk and mix. Use a Spatula

Start adding the Flour to this mix 1 cup at a time and mixing it in with the Spatula

Once it is well incorporated, dust a clean working surface with Flour and take the dough out to knead

After kneading for about 4 minutes

After 7 minutes

After 10 minutes

Once done, grease a large bowl and let the dough rest here for 2 hours, cover

After  2 hours the dough would have risen to double its size

Punch down the dough and give it one final knead. Cut the down into 3 equal portions

Make long rolls out of these portions using your hands, dust lightly with flour during the process

Lay the rolls on a floured surface, hold one end of all the three ropes and pinch in together, braid and pinch the other end in the same way

Grease a baking tray and let the braid rise for another 30 minutes, I made an arch out of the Bread simple because my baking dish was not long enough, it can made into a round too

Preheat the Oven to 200C / 400 F

After 30 minutes, beat 1 Egg and 1 tsp of Water together; this is called Egg Wash, it does not let your Bread become dry and gives a glossy finish to the Bread. Apply this Egg wash with a brush onto the surface of the Bread, cover as much as you can.

Sprinkle generous amount of Sesame Seeds on top of the Bread

I changed the Microwave mode to Convection and baked the Bread for 25 minutes, if you think it is not done in 25 minutes, bake it for another 5 minutes

Once done, place it on a Cooling Rack and give it 10 minutes before savoring it

I cut it out into 2 huge chunks, wrapped them in Cling Wraps & stocked it up for the coming week

Make slices and eat as you wish with Jam, Butter, Cheese or any other Spread of your choice.
Chitrangada from Color & Spices say in her blog that these make great French Toasts 

I made some Sandwiches for Dinner with this Bread which tasted excellent as well

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