Sitting around the breakfast table this past Saturday morning, we debated on Sunday's dinner menu. It came down to the fact that none of us really wanted or craved anything, especially not the usual potatoes, whatever the cooking style! It was then we realized that it was that time of year again; we were tired of the comforting but heavy winter dishes and haven't quite transitioned into a spring/summer cooking mindset. Funny how our bodies know things physically before we realize it mentally. We ended up settling for a chicken and broccoli casserole with rice on the side while my sister brought over a light and absolutely scrumptious layered sponge cake filled with fresh strawberries and frosted with fresh whipped cream.
Yard work was also in full swing this weekend at my house though I didn't contribute, instead I promised myself I would be there for the garden planting. With the promised warmer weather ahead my hands are itching to practice photography outdoors so I am impatiently waiting for everything to start turning green, the dry and bleak landscapes currently are not very inspiring.
After realizing that I had no inspiration or recipe to work on, I took a break from working on anything blog related this weekend and it felt good. Even bloggers need a break sometimes! I am learning to prepare ahead and don't mind working on an extra recipe or two just to be ahead of pace as was the case with today's recipe. I had intended to make just a classic version of Challah bread by sprinkling it with sesame seeds until my sister mentioned that I should try to recreate the version we sold at the cafe that she and I used to work at, so I have both for you!
Poppyseed & Garlic Challah Bread
Makes 2 loaves
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup + 1 tsp sugar
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs + 1 more for the wash
- 1/4 honey
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- In a measuring cup combine yeast and 1 tsp of sugar in the warm water. Set aside to allow for yeast to activate, about 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl whisk together vegetable oil, 3 of the eggs and honey. Add in the yeast mixture and whisk until combined.
- Add flour, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn the mixer onto the lowest speed setting and slowly add the wet ingredients.
- Continue to mix on low speed until ingredients start to come together and form a ball of dough. Turn your mixer stetting up a notch to medium low and continue to knead until the dough clears the bowl, about 10 minutes total.
- If the dough is sticky, add flour a little at a time during the kneading process unti it turns supple. It should be softer to the touch then most bread doughs though not sticky or dry.
- Transfer dough to a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at a warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate by pressing it with your hands. Divide the dough in half then take each half and divide into thirds.
- Roll each third into a rope about 18-in long. Take three of the ropes and pinch the tops together and braid, pinching the bottoms together at the end as well. Repeat with remaining three ropes of dough.
- Transfer braided dough(s) onto parchment lined baking sheets, tucking the pinched ends underneath the dough. Whisk the remaining egg and brush onto the loaves, reserving the leftover egg wash for the second coat later. Cover loaves with loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature to rise for about 30 minutes.
- Heat your oven to 375 and combine the salt, poppy seeds and garlic powder in a small bowl. Brush the loaves with another coat of egg wash and then sprinkle evenly with the seasoning mix (recipe enough to cover both loaves) or sesame seeds. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until deep golden brown. Allow challah to cook on a wire rack and serve warm. This bread is best made and eaten same day though can be kept for up to three days. Enjoy!
*adapted from Leah Koenig's Modern Jewish Cooking.