Another Tuesday, and another essential cooking technique. Today’s post is done with help from my friend Melissa, who bakes amazing bread. So, with her help, we’re going to learn how to make a yeast bread.
First, you’ll need to proof the yeast. Place the water in a small bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and make sure it bubbles. Otherwise, your yeast is dead, and you need new yeast. Don’t stir it, just let it float on top.
While that’s happening, whisk or stir your eggs together with the salt, then place in a large stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and slowly add in the flour, mixing well.
Continue to add the flour a half cup at a time, mixing well between additions.
Add the yeast and water to the dough, along with 1/4 cup of olive oil and the same amount of honey. Mix again, adding more flour if the dough sticks to your hands, and more oil if it’s too dry.
This is what your dough should look like when you’re done… tacky but neither sticky nor crumbly.
Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise for 15 minutes, then return to the stand mixer and knead on low speed for 6-8 minutes.
Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a dishtowel, and let rise somewhere warm for an hour. Punch it down, knead again briefly, and return to the bowl to rise for another hour.
To braid together, pinch the ends of four strands of dough together at one end, then cross strand 1 over strand 3, cross strand 2 over strand 3, cross strand 4 over strand 2, and repeat until you get to the end of the strands. Pinch all loose ends together.
- 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 3 + cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar 1 3/4 ounces
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk reserve the white for the egg wash
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon poppy or sesame seeds
Place 2/3 cup water in a small bowl, and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let sit 10-15 minutes until bubbly.
Whisk the eggs together with the salt and slowly add in flour, mixing well.
Add the yeast and water along with 1/4 cup olive oil and they honey and mix again. Add more flour if the dough sticks to your hands, and add more oil if the dough is too try.
Let rise 15 minutes in an oiled bowl.
Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. With a dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed for 6-8 minutes. (Alternatively, turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.) If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky, but no longer like bubblegum. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball-shape.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, punch down and knead again briefly (30 seconds in a mixer on low) then let rise in a covered bowl for another hour.
Separate the dough and roll into ropes. Separate the dough into four equal pieces Roll each piece of dough into a long rope roughly 1-inch thick and 12 inches long. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again. Once the braids are rolled, let them rise for another 10 minutes before braiding.
Braid the dough. Gather the ropes and squeeze them together at the very top. Using numbers 1-4 to describe the strands, braid them in the following way. It is not important which strand was originally number 1, etc. As far as braiding goes, number 1 is always the left-most strand of dough.
To make the braid, pinch the ends of four strands of dough together at one end.
Cross strand 1 over strand 3.
Cross strand 2 over strand 3.
Cross strand 4 over strand 2.
Repeat until you get to the end of the strands. Pinch all loose ends together.
There is a visual guide available here: http://bakingbites.com/2010/09/how-to-braid-challah-three-four-and-five-strand-braids/
Let the challah rise on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a warm oven (200 °F) for 30 minutes.
About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 350°F. Beat together 1 egg with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brush challah with oil and egg wash. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
Bake the challah for 20-25 minutes, until deeply browned.
Cool the challah. Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Slice and eat.