Sunday, July 6, 2014

8 egg yolk challah bread

Baking a non-quick bread has been on my baking bucket list for a while. I'm slowly getting more comfortable working with yeast, but baking bread is just so time-consuming. It's hard to carve out time to do anything these days, much less bake bread.

Surprisingly, I actually had egg yolks leftover in my refrigerator one day rather than egg whites. Ladies and gentlemen, this is definitely a first. My first thought to use up the egg yolks was to make ice cream, but we didn't have room in the freezer (note to self: make room for more ice cream in the freezer). Then I thought about making something with custard but the portions would have been too big for our little family of three.

Finally, I thought about tackling bread. I could keep a loaf and give away the other. Perfect. Little did I know that this challah recipe made two GINORMOUS loaves. Each one was probably two feet in length. If you look at my photo, you'll see that the one loaf is as wide as my half sheet pan.

I really am proud of myself for finally baking this bread. It was what I imagined a homemade challah would taste like - eggy and chewy with a golden and crisp exterior. I toasted a few slices and added Nutella to them and Addie ate them like candy. Then I made a Nutella-stuffed challah French toast, and again Addie ate hers up very quickly. Although my challah braiding skills could definitely use some work, the bread itself was really delicious and is something I'd definitely make again. Holla! (sorry, couldn't resist myself there)

8 egg yolk challah bread
  • 2½ cups/510 grams lukewarm water about 95 degrees F/35 degrees C)
  • 1½ tablespoons/14 grams instant yeast
  • 8–10 egg yolks or 170 grams depending on weight of yolks
  • 5 TBSP/71 grams vegetable oil
  • 6 TBSP/85 grams sugar, or 4½ TBSP/96 grams honey or agave nectar
  • 1 TBSP/21 grams vanilla extract (optional)
  • 7½ cups/964 grams unbleached bread flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons/19 grams salt or 4 teaspoons/20 grams coarse kosher salt
  • 1 egg white for egg wash
  • 2 TBSP/30 grams water for egg wash
  • 2 TBSP/20 grams sesame or poppyseeds for garnish, optional
Directions
Day 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the water and the yeast until the yeast has dissolved (I used a hand whisk). Add in the egg yolks, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk. Then add the vanilla and flour and whisk until mixture is lumpy.

Using the dough hook attachment, whisk the mixture for about 4 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead by hand for a few minutes or until the dough is soft and pliable but not sticky (if it is, add a little bit of flour). Cut the dough in half and place each half in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2: Two hours before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Transfer one dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into the number of braids you want to use for your bread (I used 6). Alternatively, you can shape into dinner rolls or small loaves and place on your baking sheet.

For braiding technique, I used this video. Repeat with the other dough ball.

Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg white and water. Brush generously onto each loaf and put the remaining egg wash back in the refrigerator. Allow the bread to rise again, uncovered, for 1 hour. Brush each loaf with egg wash again.

Let the bread rise again for another hour or until it is 1.5 times its size.

Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 15-30 minutes or until you hear a hollow sound when you rap the baking sheet on your kitchen counter. If you don't hear the sound, bake for additional time.

Allow the bread to cool for at leas 45 minutes before enjoying.

Bread should be wrapped tightly in foil (or in a large enough airtight container) at room temperature and will keep for several days. It makes a fantastic French toast.

Yield: Two large loaves

Source: Michael Ruhlman; originally from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads

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