Thursday, September 17, 2009
Shana Tova! Happy New Year to my fellow members of the tribe! Rosh Hashanah is here!
I love this Jewish holiday. It's such a joyous celebration spent with family, focusing on new beginnings, a clean slate, second chances, basically, a new year! And the food is fantastic! Besides making everything with apples and honey (I'm not kidding, you can throw those two ingredients into just about anything: pasta, meatloaf, chicken, kugel, salad, cookies, etc...), another tradition is to make a round challah, symbolizing the cycle of a year or the cycle of life (and oh man, there are so many other interpretations!). When I saw this King Arthur Flour no-knead round challah recipe featured in the blog Bakers' Banter and the accompanying gorgeous photos, I had to try it.
The concept of a no-knead challah is interesting, and it's becoming increasingly popular and trendy. I had never tried it before. This specific challah recipe is actually ideal for a busy, working person who can't put together a traditional loaf of bread in the evening after work unless she wants to be up till 1 in the morning. Kneading, plus two rising times, plus baking, means one really late night. But with this recipe, you make the dough, let it rise for about 2 hours, and then it goes into the fridge overnight! You take it out the following night, shape it, let it rise another 90 minutes, and then bake it! A two day process works perfectly for my busy schedule!
As you'll see in my photos, the challah grew A LOT during the rises and baking! More than in the photos from Bakers' Banter. Maybe I have superhero super active yeast. Still, without comparing it to anything, it's a gorgeous, regal loaf. And I'm patting myself on the back for successfully making a yeast bread without kneading it at all. The urge was there but I resisted!
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
6 3/4 cups or 7 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
4 large eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
*See step #1, below.
1 egg (any size) beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
2 to 3 tablespoons sesame seeds or poppy seeds, optional
1. The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 3/4 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 3/4 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure flour by weight, use 33 ounces.
2. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, in the order written, in a very large bowl (at least 6 quarts). Stir to make a sticky dough. You can do this in a stand mixer and then transfer to a larger bowl; or simply use a big bowl and spoon (or dough whisk).
3. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 2 hours at cool room temperature.
4. Refrigerate the dough for at least several hours, to chill it and make it easier to work with. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days before using.
5. When you're ready to make challah, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and scoop out about one-third of the dough (about 21 ounces). Transfer it to a floured work surface; a silicone mat works well here.
6. Divide the dough into three pieces, and shape each piece into a log about 24" long.
7. Braid the logs, pinching the strands together at each end.
8. Lightly grease an 8" x 2" round cake pan. It's important that the pan is at least 2" deep. If it's not use, a 9" round pan. Coil the braid into the pan.
9. Cover the pan, and allow the braid to rise for about 90 minutes, till it's quite puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
10. Uncover the challah, and brush it with the egg/water mixture. Sprinkle with seeds, if desired.
11. Bake the challah for 30 to 35 minutes, till it's golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F.
12. Remove from the oven, and carefully turn out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Yield: one 9" round braid. The entire recipe will make 3 loaves.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
Combine all ingredients for the dough into a mixing bowl...
Mix until a sticky mass forms...
Place in a bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours...
Here's the dough after 2 hours of rising...
Then place in the fridge overnight...
Next night, take the dough out of the fridge and divide into 3 portions...
Roll out each of the braid strands to 24 inches long...
To braid, I start from the center and work out from both ends. This ensures the braid will be evenly-thick, rather than thick at one end and tapered at the other.
There's nice even braiding...
Transfer the braid to a well-greased round pan...
Cover and let rise until puffy, about 90 minutes...
Just before baking, add the egg wash and sesame or poppy seeds...
Bake for at least 35 minutes...
Gorgeous loaf hot out of the oven!