I keep telling myself that I am going to make bread. My aunt even gave me a container full of yeast to get me started. But, I have yet to get the breadmaker out of my mom’s garage.
However, the other weekend I was scrolling through facebook and came across someone’s picture of absolutely perfect looking French toast, made from challah. That was all the push I needed. Bright and early the next morning I was in the kitchen, mixing up ingredients. I had yet to get a breadmaker, but kneading dough by hand shouldn’t be too hard, right? Wrong, messiest endeavor ever. It was fun though!
Making these two loafs of bread took me all day. Between kneading the dough, it has to be let alone to rise. And after rising, it has to be kneaded again. I finally got it in the oven to bake around 10 pm. But having it to make French toast on Sunday morning was well worth it!
Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 ½ hours rising
Makes: 2 loafs
- 1 ½ packages active dry yeast (I used 3 teaspoons)
- 1 tbsp sugar, plus 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tbsp table salt
- 8-8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (I used sesame because I believe everything is better with a few sprinkles of sesame seeds)
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar into the water. Set aside for 5 minutes. Your yeast will activate and start to foam.
- Whisk oil into yeast mixture. Beat in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, along with the remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time. When the dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour (it should almost double in size). Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour. (NOTE: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.)
- Take half of the dough and form it into 3 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide. Place the 3 strands in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together and braid the length of the strands. For a straight loaf, pinch the bottom ends together. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves onto a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between them.
- Beat remaining egg together with the honey and brush the mixture on loaves. Either freeze loaves or let rise another hour.
- If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.
- Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack. Enjoy!
I was pretty content with my results. My husband and I chowed down on the challah as a midnight snack, then enjoyed it in french toast form the next morning!