Sponge Method Challah Bread
Challah is a classic braided egg bread and a crowd pleaser. Challah has become a favourite of mine for occasions. The eggs and butter create a yummy chew. There are many ways to braid the dough from a basic pan to a three strand, round to even a bowl. Don’t let a fear of braiding hold you back.
I sometimes do the sponge with whole wheat flour and finish with all purpose or bread flour. I use salt and grated cheese shakers for seeds and corn meal. Makes it easier to apply them and less wasteful.
Sponge method refers to making a mixture of water, an equal weight of flour and some yeast then letting it ferment to give the yeast time to start breaking down the flour. This gives a better taste and flavour.
- All-purpose Flour - 1 cup (130 g)
- Warm Water - ½ cup (115 g) (~95oF/35oC)
- Instant Yeast - 1 tsp (8 g)
- All-purpose Flour - 1½ to 2 cups (195 g - 260 g)
- Sugar - 1 TBSP (13 g)
- Instant Yeast - 1¼ tsp (8 g)
- Fine Sea Salt - ½ tsp (3 g)
- Butter - 3 TBSP (45 mL) - softened or Olive Oil
- 2 Eggs + 1 Egg white
- 1 Egg yolk
- Water - 1 TBSP (15 mL)
- Poppy Seeds - optional
- Sesame Seeds - optional
- In mixer bowl combine water, flour and yeast.
- Cling wrap
- Ferment 1 hour
- Add butter, salt, eggs, egg white, yeast and sugar.
- Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- Knead 4 to 6 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place in large bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cling Wrap
- Ferment 30 to 45 minutes.
- Punch dough down.
- Divide into three equal pieces and braid.
- Proof 30 to 45 minutes until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 375oF (190oC/Gas 5)
- (Wash) Beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; sift to remove clumps; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with seeds. (optional)
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until done.
- Cool on wire rack