I was really excited when I saw the theme for this month’s Bread Baking Day, hosted by Baking A Sweet Life (update: as of February 2015, this site does not seem to exist anymore). I love breakfast breads, especially the sweet ones.
However, as some of you may have noticed from my slacking on the Daring Bakers Challenge, my May became rather challenging. And I was going so strong! Basically I think I got what I deserved for saving my bread and my opera cake for the end of the month.
But I did at least get my bread made. I made it at my mom’s house—I found the recipe in Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible, and my one regret is that I kind of wish I had saved my first attempt at challah for my own house—with my own supplies, my own oven, and, most importantly, all of my cookbooks, because I found the dough very difficult to work with and Ms. Hensperger didn’t give too much advice in that department. Sticky is an understatement—and she wanted me to knead it for 4 minutes somehow!
But anyway, I chose her Vanilla Challah—it’s a recipe I had always wanted to make as I thought it would make fabulous French toast. As it turns out that is about all it did. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good challah recipe (I think anyway), but the addition of the vanilla without much of a sweetness present in the dough left for kind of an odd mix. You were either disappointed the bread was not sweeter (in my case) or you flat out disliked it (my mom). Or, like my dad, you loved it because you lost your sense of smell years ago anyway!
One note about the top of the bread: I forgot the darn glaze until the bread had already been in the oven, so that is why the top looks a little funny. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the challenges of cooking in someone else’s kitchen!
Sweet Vanilla Challah
Adapted from The Bread Bible, Beth Hensperger
1 T active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1 T salt
6 ½ – 7 cups AP flour
1 ¾ cups hot water (120 F)
4 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ T pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 t vanilla extract
½ t sugar
In a large mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, mix the yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Add the hot water, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat hard until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough forms a rough mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 4 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to prevent sticking (I eventually gave up on this part).
Scrape the dough into a greased, deep bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
I chose to use a loaf pan and a 10 inch springform pan rather than trying to shape the dough into a braid or coil as I was kind of frustrated by working with the dough by then. Grease (or use parchment paper if shaping into a free form loaf onto a cookie sheet) your desired pans. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise another 30-45 minutes (the dough may not double, which is fine as this dough will get additional rise from the eggs). 15 minutes before the end of this preheat the oven to 350 F.
Before putting the bread into the oven, gently but thickly brush the glaze onto the surface of the bread. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Cool completely before slicing.