So where have I been? Well, I've been around. If you're not interested in personal details, you can skip to the recipe... But here they are: This past fall was incredibly challenging, because I began a PhD program that involved a 90 minute commute and my mother, of blessed memory, was in hospice for nearly two months after a six year battle with pancreatic cancer. And I was in first trimester of pregnancy. And then, this winter and spring, we ate a lot of plain challah, Nutella challah, and fresh herbed challah. Whatever tasted good, and whatever was easy in a busy, busy time.
So, needless to say, things are a lot brighter and a lot sweeter now after a tough fall. They're no less busy... in fact, they're kind of completely insane. This recipe was prepared with a baby in an Ergo (save the oven opening... be safe folks), so please bear with me if anything doesn't make sense! We're not working with too much sleep here! In honor of this new sweetness in life, here's a sweeter challah that I tried out this past Shabbat!
2 1/4 tsp active dry or instant yeast (1 packet)
2 eggs plus 1 more for egg wash
1/4 c neutral oil like vegetable or canola
3 to 3 1/2 c bread flour
3 tbsp + 1/4 tsp sugar plus additional 1/2 tsp for egg wash
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla plus additional 1 tsp for egg wash
Place very warm (but not hot) water in mixing bowl. Add yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar, mixing lightly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so, until yeast is foamy. Add 2 eggs, 1 tbsp vanilla, 3 tbsp sugar and vegetable oil and mix with wood spoon.
Place in oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap or a towel.
Allow to rise at least one hour, preferably more (usually about an hour and a half), until dough has doubled in size. I only do one rise as a ball, but you can do more. I'm not convinced it does much to the texture but some people swear by it.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, rotating 180 degrees after the first 15 minutes. You can use a bread thermometer (180-200 degrees) or poke at the seams. Foil if browning too quickly on top.