The Challah Bread is the Jewish Shabbat bread which means it has to be extravagant to honor the resting day, indeed it is, we refer to it as a connecting link between a brioche and a white bread and the texture is just heavenly.
What is a Challah Bread?
Basically, is what we called an enriched yeast dough, it is enriched with eggs and fat, making the texture light and fluffy but also makes the proofing procedure more difficult.
I use more yeast in Challah than in regular, non-enriched dough breads because fat interfere and slow down the yeast actions. The fat molecules are covering the gluten molecules, this affect the yeast action by limiting the gluten molecules expansion, however when baked they also prevent the starch in the molecules from gelatin as the fat protects loss of liquids.
Guidelines for a perfect Challah bread
Whenever I use enriched dough, the mixing time of the dough needs to be long, we need to really break and waken the dough’s gluten molecules so they will interact and form the connections needed for a flexible dough.
Sugar or any sweetener (date honey, Honey etc.) is necessary to keep the dough fresh for the next few days, it also creates this great golden color on the top of the challah, how much sugar is up to you, I tend to keep it on the balanced side but there are certainly versions of challah with higher amounts of sugar, just remember that when adding maple syrup, honey or date honey, in such a light neutral bread the taste will be affected dramatically.
Braiding the challah bread
In any bakery, the challah sticks out because of its special braided form, I have to admit that coming from 3 braided stands and up, it gets a bit confusing and only time and practice can get the challah to a shape you will be happy with.
I used a 5-strand braid in this recipe but you can use different amount of braids per challah.
Mix for 2-3 minutes, add the salt and mix for another 8-10 minutes on medium speed.
Roll each ball into a 25cm/ 10-inch-long thin oval shape.
Set the 3 strands on the right and 2 on the left.
Flip the challah to the left side, this will now the top of the challah.
Preheat the oven for 170c/ 350F.
Brush the challah with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame.