Traditionally, Challah(pronounced Ha-lah) is a Jewish celebration bread enjoyed on Jewish holidays and every Friday evening for Shabbat. The bread is braided, except on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) when it is made round to symbolize continuity.
Challah comes from biblical story of manna, or bread, that God sent to the Israelites in the wilderness. In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews brought dough as an offering to the priests, who used it to bake their own bread. For centuries, Jewish women baked challah weekly in their homes. These days, most Jews buy it at bakeries.
Today, Challah is not only a religious symbol that we see amongst the Jews or a bread that is only prepared for Friday. It has become a staple to many diners and delis. In my opinion if your going to make French Toast- use Challah (Promise it is better then Brioche).
Ingredients for Sponge
- 1/3 cup of warm water
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup flour
- Pinch of Sugar
To make Sponge:
In a small bowl, combine water, yeast, flour and sugar. Mix well, cover and let stand for ten minutes or until bubbly.
- 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 cups of flour, sifted (reserve 1/2 cup for kneading)
- 1 cup of lukewarm tap water
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 egg yolks and 2 eggs beaten, room temperature
In a large bowl measure 3 cups of flour. Make a well in the center and add the waterm butter, sugar, egg yolks, beaten eggs and yeast mixture (the sponge). Mix well in an electric mixer. Beat in 1 cup of flour, continue beating, and than add another 1/2 cup. Turn onto a four board and knead about 8 to 10 minutes.
Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly flowered board. Divide dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each half to make a 28 inch rope and then divide the rope in to three even sections.
Place the the end of each section together, braid the pieces inward, when finished seal edges. Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour)
Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F. Brush Challah with Egg glaze (1 egg yolk with a tablespoon of water).