Challah, Baby!

ChallahDonebfLOYeah, I know that challah is traditionally baked as a braided loaf, and that it makes very nice French toast; but Rich had a taste for pimiento cheese burgers and we didn’t have any buns on hand.

By happy coincidence, I had just come across an interesting recipe in the book that came with my food processor, and it was the work of moments on da Google to find hints for converting this tasty, tasty bread into equally tasty, and just-about-perfect, in my not-so-humble-opinion, hamburger buns.

One note before we dive in: if you followed my brioche effort, you’ll be relieved to know that making challah is a much simpler process, involving, all told, about three hours (most of that rising), and not two days.

•3 tbsp sugar
•1 pkg active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp)
•1/4 cup warm water (105 – 115°)
•3-1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
•1-1/2 tsp table salt
•1/2 cup cold water
•1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 tbsp + 1 tsp), melted
ChallahYeastProofbfLO•1 large egg
•Cooking spray

Egg glaze:
•1 large egg
•1 tbsp water

In a 2-cup liquid measure, dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

04ChallahDoughProcessorbfLOInsert the dough blade (that little plastic blade you never really use – ermmm, if you’re like me) in the work bowl and add flour, remaining sugar and salt. Pulse to combine well, maybe three or four times.

Add cold water, melted butter and egg to the foamy yeast mixture in the measuring cup.

07ChallahRisenbfLOWith the processor running, add this liquid through the small feed tube in a steady stream, as fast as the flour mixture can absorb it. Once dough forms a ball, continue processing for 45 seconds to knead dough – my Cuisinart started doing a little dance on the countertop at this point, so I took that as a sign of kneading well and truly accomplished.

Place dough in a floured plastic food storage bag and seal. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down.

ChallahRollsbfLOFor Bread:
Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Use your hands to roll each piece into a cylinder about 1½ x 14-inch. Place the cylinders side by side on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil cooking spray (or lined with parchment paper). Braid loosely from one end. Gently pull and taper each end to a point, then pinch and tuck under loaf. Cover with plastic ChallahEggWashbfLOwrap coated with vegetable oil cooking spray and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

For Rolls:
Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape into a ball. Transfer to two parchment-lined pans, cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray, and let rise again for 45 minutes.

ChallahBurgerbfLOPreheat oven to 375°, about thirty minutes into the rise.

Prepare egg glaze by combining egg with water; brush over braid (or rolls).

To Bake Bread:
Bake in lower third of preheated oven for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 350°, and bake until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

To Bake Rolls:
My baking pans won’t fit side by side on one rack, so I baked them, stacked, for six minutes switched pan positions and baked for eight minutes more – all at 375º. Cool on rack.

Worked a treat for us – MMMMMMM burgers!

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