THE only book on bread and specialty Jewish and Israeli goods you need.
Uri Scheft is a Jewish baker with Israeli and Danish roots and owner of Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv (which is opened 24 hours a day!) and Breads Bakery in New York City.
His new book Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking, was released in October 2016 and not only includes a whole chapter on Challahs (our favourite) but countless other beautifully crafted recipes.
Perhaps the best part of the book is how detailed the recipes are, in terms of steps and processes. You will find step by step pictures and and Introduction at the very beginning of the book with a general crash course on both Israeli baking and bread making, in case you can’t make it to the baking classes they offer in their NYC bakery…
Today we are sharing with you Uri’s Challah recipe.
🕑 2 hours 30 minutes
- makes 3 loaves
- for the dough
- 400g water at 23°C
- 60 g fresh yeast or 15g active dry yeast
- 1kg sifted all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 100g granulated sugar
- 15g salt
- 75g sunflower oil / canola oil / unsalted butter
- for the egg wash + topping
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp water
- pinch of salt
- 90g poppy seeds
– To make the dough, pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. If using fresh yeast, crumble it into the water with your fingers; if using active dry yeast, whisk the yeast into the water. Add the flour, eggs. sugar, salt and oil.
– Start mixing the dough on a low speed. Stop the mixer if the dough climbs up the hook or if there’s dry ingredients settled at the bottom of the bowl. It takes about 2 minutes for the dough to come together.
– You can now increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and a bit firm, this should take about 4 minutes.
– Lightly flour your work surface and transfer the dough from the mixing bowl to the surface. Use your palms to push and tear the top of the dough away from you in one stroke, then fold the section onto the middle of the dough. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat this process for 1 minute.
– Now it’s time to let the dough rise, lightly dust a bowl with flour, add the dough and sprinkle the top with some flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 40 minute or until it has risen by 70%.
– Once risen, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Gently pull the dough into a rectangular shape and divide into 3 equal horizontal strips. Then divide each piece into 3 smaller equal parts crosswise, now you should have 9 pieces.
– Set a piece of dough lengthwise on your work surface. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into a flat rectangle; then fold the top portion over and use your palm to press the edge into the flat part of the dough. Fold and press 3 more times – the dough will end up as a cylinder about 7 inches long. Repeat this process with all the strips.
– Return to the first piece of dough and use both hands to roll the cylinder back and forth to form a long rope, pressing down lightly when you get to the ends of the rope. Make sure your work surface is not overly floured for this step. The ropes should be about 14 inches long with tapered ends. Repeat with all the remaining cylinders.
– Get 3 ropes together and pinch the ends at the top. Start braiding the dough, lifting each piece up and over so the braid is more stacked than it is long. You want is to be fatter and taller in the middle and more tapered at the ends. When you finishing braiding use your palm to seal the ends together. Repeat with the remaining ropes until you have 3 braided challahs.
– Line baking trays with parchment paper and transfer the challahs to the trays. Cover them with kitchen towels and set them aside in a warm place to rise until the loaves have doubled in size, for about 40 minutes.
– Preheat the oven to 218°C. Test whether the loaves are fully risen by pressing your finger lightly into the dough, if the depression fills in by half it’s ready. If the depression fills back in quickly and completely, the dough needs more time to rise. If you press the dough and it slightly deflates, the dough has overproofed and will be heavier and less airy after baking.
– Make the egg wash by mixing the egg, water and salt together. You can put he mixture into a spray bottle to make the egg washing of the loaves more efficient. Egg wash the loaves and sprinkle generously with poppy seeds.
– Bake for 15 minutes and rotate the trays so all the loaves get an even bake. Remove the loaves from the oven and set aside to cool.
We absolutely loved following this recipe, every step was clearly explained and illustrated, which made the whole process both enjoyable and educational.
Instead of making 3 Challah loaves, we made 2 and Challah Rolls.
After making Challah once before, this recipe seemed to produce a less sweeter loaf, which is absolutely fine. The crumb was so soft that it made for the perfect toast in the morning slathered with butter.
We can’t wait to try some other recipes, there are some beautiful stuffed breads and Focaccia recipes.
This book is really all you need if you are venturing into the world of bread baking. You will not only learn a lot but you will be able to apply it onto gorgeous loafs and sweet breads. Baking bread can sometimes be a challenge, but with a bit of confidence and Uri’s expertise, there’s nothing you won’t be able to bake.
✚ Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking is available now.
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