Ok, I wanna start at the beginning. CHALLAH AT ME!
……but let’s put a twist on it.
Yield: 1500 g (3 loaves)
- Prepare and cool saffron water: about 1 hour
- Mix: 10 minutes
- First fermentation: 2 hours, with degassing at 1 hour
- Divide/shape: about 20 minutes
- Proof: 1.5 – 2 hours
- Bake: 30 minutes
Desired dough temperature: 79F
- 600 g flour
- 300 g high-gluten flour
- 300 g water
- 7.4 g (2 3/8 t.) instant yeast
- 17 g (scant Tablespoon) salt
- a generous pinch of saffron threads
- 51 g sugar
- 80 g egg yolk (4 yolks)
- 100 g whole egg (2 eggs)
- 68 g vegetable oil
- One egg for egg wash
- Grind the safrron threads in a mortal and pestle or with the back of a spoon.
- Boil about 3/4 cup of the water and pour it over the saffron threads.
- Let the water cool to room temperature. Combine this water with ice water to make the amount of water needed for the dough.
- Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until just combined, about 3 minutes. The consistency of the dough should be quite stiff.
- Mix on low or medium speed until the gluten has reached nearly full development. This may take about 5 minutes, but will depend on your mixer.
- Transfer the dough to a covered, lightly oiled container. Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours. After the first hour, gently press the dough to degas it.
- Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured counter and divide it into 3 pieces of about 500 g each. Further divide each piece, depending on the number of strands you want for each loaf.
- Braid or otherwise shape the dough as you please (see shaping notes below). Place shaped loaves on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced as far apart from each other as possible.
- Beat one egg with a fork and mix it with a teaspoon or so of water. Brush the egg wash lightly onto the loaves. Save the remaining egg wash.
- Slip the loaves into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for 1.5 – 2 hours, until the dough springs back very slowly when pressed lightly with your finger.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 380F.
- Before baking, give the loaves another light coating of the egg wash.
- Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, until the crust is a shiny dark brown.
- Place the loaves on a wire rack to cool.
Make sure your counter does not have too much flour on it when you roll out the strands. Your dough needs to grab the counter a bit to be able to roll well.
For the two-stranded rosette, I divided the dough into two equal portions and rolled each one out into a tapered strand about 24 inches long. I wound the strands together like rope, then coiled the rope up into a spiral.
For this six-braid, I followed Maggie Glezer’s instructions in her challah recipe on the Fine Cooking website. At first glance, the diagrams may look a tad confusing, but don’t be put off. The back-and-forth mantra here is “second from RIGHT strand goes over to the far left; RIGHT strand goes to the middle; second from LEFT strand goes to the far right; LEFT strand goes to the middle.” As you can see, I still need to work on tapering my strands more to get that nice torpedo shape.
The second six-strand shape is even easier. Just as with the common three-strand braid, chant “RIGHT strand into the middle, LEFT strand into the middle” a few times, and you’re done in 30 seconds flat.
Recipe and photos: Wild Yeast Blog