Oh February where have you gone?! I could swear that it was still somewhere in late January. The beginning of this year seems to be flying by. January (my birthday month) came and went among many cakes, dinosaurs, and of course, the beginning of this blog (yay!).
I headed out to Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington over President's Day weekend for some much needed R&R and to celebrate some friends' birthdays (photos and post to come!). It was a weekend of hottubbing, snow tubing, puzzles, and delicious meals. I baked three loaves of challah, one to eat immediately and two to pack along to make the absolute best French Toast over the weekend. Stale Challah is the perfect bread for French Toast. Lightly sweetened, thick and custardy, Challah French Toast is the easiest no fuss cabin breakfast.
This Challah recipe is immensely satisfying, needs minimal kneading, and uses ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Like most breads though, the hardest part is waiting. Challah is an all around win win!
Source: America's Test Kitchen, altered slightly
Makes one loaf
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water (about 110 F)
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water and 1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
EVERYTHING TOPPING (OPTIONAL)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon course salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs, yolk, water and oil. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water mixture and mix until a rough dough forms, about two minutes. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour until the proper consistency is achieved. Remove the dough onto a floured counter and knead for thirty seconds, and shape into a ball.
- Coat a large bowl lightly with oil and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Turn the dough onto a counter and divide into 2 pieces, one twice as big as the other. Divide each of those 2 pieces into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is 16 inches long. You’ll have three thicker ropes from the large piece of dough and three thinner ropes from the smaller piece.
- Grab the 3 thicker ropes. Pinch the ends together and braid the strands by crossing the strand on the right side over the center one and then the one on the left side over the center.
- Continue until the strands are braided to the bottom then pinch the ends together. Repeat with the 3 thinner strands to form a second, smaller braid.
- Beat the remaining egg, water and salt. Transfer the larger braid to a sheet of parchment paper set in a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top of the braid with the egg wash then place the smaller braid on top and press gently to secure it. Tuck the ends under on both sides of the loaf.
- Cover the loaf with greased plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until just about doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, set a rack in the middle position and preheat your oven to 375 F. When the loaf has risen, brush liberally with the remaining egg wash mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or everything topping, if using. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the loaf has browned and an instant read-thermometer inserted in the center registers 200 F. If loaf browns too quickly cover with foil to keep from burning.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool.