Yes, the loaf and peel are resting on a bush, outdoors. I didn’t have anyplace setup to take a picture of anything that large, and the loaf looked too good to eat without photographing first. 😎
- Dough Mixer
- Pizza Peel
- 2 Pizza Stones
- Pastry brush
|17||Grams||Active dry yeast|
|250||Grams||Bottled water (Evian, Poland Springs, etc.)|
|4||Ounces||Unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature, or substitute 1/4C + 2T Vegetable Oil|
|6 1/2||Cups (1Kg)||High-gluten flour, bread flour (I use New Hope Mills)|
I use 2 Pizza Stones and 2 ovens for this recipe because both loaves won’t fit on one stone.
- Place the water in a medium bowl and warm to 80°F add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and whisk it. While whisking, add the yeast.
- Let sit for 10 minutes. It should be foamy. If not, the yeast was old or dead, or the water was too hot. In either case, you’ll need to start over with fresh water, sugar and yeast.
- Place butter in a large glass bowl and microwave until just melted (not hot).
- Add milk, sugar, salt and honey. Whisk until dissolved. Warm in microwave for a few seconds, if necessary to keep mixture warm enough so butter stays liquid.
- Whisk in the yeast/water mixture and the eggs.
- Pour into the dough mixer and set on low and add the flour.
- Once it combines increase speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough can be windowpaned (usually about 10 minutes)
- Dump the dough into a 5 quart plastic tub with a lid and leave it somewhere warm (about 80°F) for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Stretch dough out into an elongated blob and fold in half. Rotate 90° and repeat until you have done this 4 times.
- Let it rise until dough has doubled again and repeat the above step
An hour before baking:
- Put the pizza stone(s) in the oven(s) and preheat to 365°
- Dump dough out on to a lightly floured surface stretching into an elongated shape.
- Cut in half length-wise. Cut each half in thirds length-wise
- Stretch each piece into a rope about 16 inches long; it should be a little thicker in the center and tapered at the ends.
- Align the ropes vertically, side by side, and start braiding, twisting the left and middle, then the right and middle. Repeat until you reach the other end.
- Pinch the three strands on then end together to seal the end and tuck under the loaf. Do the same thing on the other end of the loaf.
- Liberally sprinkle cornmeal on a Pizza Peel (paddle) and place the braided dough on it.
- Do the same with the other three pieces of dough.
- Cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise at room temperature for about an hour, or until soft, puffy, and almost doubled.
The Glaze & Topping
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Sesame, poppy, and/or caraway seeds (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Whisk the egg, yolk, and water together in a small bowl .
- Brush the tops and sides of the challah with glaze, sprinkle Kosher salt over, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Reserve the leftover glaze for brushing the loaves during baking.
Slide the dough from the peel onto the preheated baking stone(s).
Bake for 20 minutes. The loaves will expand and expose some of the inner dough. Brush the newly exposed dough with the reserved glaze and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the loaves are golden and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.