Challah (or hallah) is a braided bread traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and holidays. Because making anything with yeast in it can be a bit of an arduous task, many families opt for the store-bought variety for their Friday night tables. But honestly, there’s really nothing quite as wonderful as making freshly-baked challah at home.
Luckily, I was able to spend some time at Two Moms Baked Goods in Toronto making my very own challah to bring home to my family (and of course, to taste-test while I was there). In addition to being a fully-kosher facility, Two Moms uses all-natural, nut-free ingredients, which means that all of their baked goods are safe to bring to schools, day cares and camps. I have sampled many of their delicious cookies and squares and cupcakes in the past, but I have never tasted anything like their stuffed challahs. Yes, you heard that right. The two moms of Two Moms — Caroline and Karen — have added a delectable spin to the traditional by stuffing their challahs with either chocolate or cinnamon.
And because I want to share all little of the Two Moms love with you today, I am giving you all the top-secret recipe!
What you’ll need:
• 1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
• 2 tbsp dry yeast
• 1 tbsp plus 3/4 cup sugar
• 5 large eggs
• 3/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 tsp salt
• 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (approx)
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 tbsp water
1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in large glass measuring cup and stir until yeast dissolves. Let yeast mixture stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat 5 eggs until blended. Add oil, salt and 3/4 cup sugar and beat until pale yellow and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Beat in 2/3 cup warm water. Add yeast mixture and beat until blended. Remove whisk and fit mixer with dough hook. Add enough flour 1 cup at a time to form smooth dough, beating well after each addition. Beat on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding flour by tablespoonfuls if sticky. Turn out onto floured surface and knead 2 minutes.
3. Lightly oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, then with clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. Punch down dough. Cover with plastic and clean kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes.
5. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 9-inch-long rope. Braid 3 ropes together; pinch ends together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, forming 2 braids. Place each braid on baking sheet. Cover with towel . Let rise in warm area until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk yolk with 1 tablespoon water to blend. Brush dough with egg mixture. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer loaves to rack and cool completely.
(Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)
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