Challah is usually eaten on ceremonial occasions such as holidays. Although it may be more related to other Jewish holidays, challah is often eaten during Hanukkah as well. Challah is fairly simple and can be made in one afternoon. The recipe below sweetens up the bread with some honey and a touch of vanilla. Give it a try this holiday season.
Rising Time:2 hrs 30 mins
Yield:1-2 challahs (serves 10-12)
For The Challah:
Hand or Stand Mixer Method:
1. Place the warm water in a large bowl or stand mixer. Sprinkle with the yeast. Set aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is foamy. (If your yeast doesn't proof properly, discard the mixture and start again with fresh yeast).
2. In another large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and white whole wheat flours, and the cardamom (if using). Set aside.
3. With a hand whisk or the mixer's whisk attachment, mix in 2 cups of the flour mixture, the eggs, oil, honey, vanilla, and salt.
Switch to a sturdy wooden spoon or the mixer's dough hook, and add the rest of the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition until a shaggy dough forms and begins to pull into a ball.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With clean, floured hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and no streaks of flour are visible, about 5 to 10 minutes. (If the dough is too sticky to work easily, knead in more whole wheat or all-purpose flour a little at a time.) Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes while you clean and dry the large mixing bowl. Grease the inside of the bowl with a bit of oil. Place the challah dough in the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
5. Lightly grease one or two baking sheets, or line with parchment paper. Sort through the raisins, discarding any that are hard or twiggy. Rinse the raisins in water until the water runs clear, and drain.
Punch the dough down. Knead the raisins into the dough on a lightly floured surface (you can divide the dough and raisins in half first if you find it easier to manage a smaller quantity of dough). When the raisins are evenly distributed throughout the dough, shape or braid it as desired.
(The recipe will make 1 large challah, 2 medium challot, 1 medium challah plus 6 challah rolls, or 12 rolls.)
6. Place the shaped challot and/or rolls on the baking sheet(s) and cover with clean, dry tea towels. Allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is heating, make the egg wash: whisk together the egg, water, and pinch of salt. Brush over the challah with a pastry brush. Bake the challah until the crust is a deep golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 to 35 minutes for a large challah, 20 to 25 minutes for a medium challah, and 15 to 20 minutes for rolls. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!