Challah bread is know as a traditional Jewish bread eaten on Shabbat, but also a traditional bread in numerous European countries, such as Poland among local non-Jewish peasant populations. It is quite popular in Poland and we call it chałka, plecionka, or kukiełka. It goes very well with homemade jams such as this rhubarb jam, which I have made few days ago. Perhaps you will be surprised but it actually tastes really nice with some dry cured ham such as Parma or Serrano ham.
This is a compilation of few recipes that I have used before and none of them was perfect (according to my taste) so I created my own.
600g plain flour + about 100g extra
80g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter
tsp of vanilla extract
level tsp of salt
7g dried fast action yeast
sesame seeds or poppy seeds for decoration
Warm the milk together with the butter until it is melted. Set aside to cool down slightly.
Lightly beat two eggs and one egg yolk saving one egg white for later. Add beaten eggs, vanilla extract to the milk with butter and place in the bread machine or artisan mixer. If using your hand add it to a large bowl.
Next add to the machine/mixer/bowl 600g of flour mixed with all sugar and salt and add the yeast. I used bread machine so only pressed the dough programme, if using mixer or hands mix until dough is ball shaped and for few minutes afterwards and if it is too sticky you have to add some more flour. The dough should be not too sticky and quite flexible.
Place in a bowl cover with clean tea towel and leave it to rise until doubled in size. (45-90 minutes, depends on temperature). If using a bread machine you do not have to do anything until the programme ends.
Remove from a bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and by punching release the air out of the dough. Divide into two equal balls, and each into 6 pieces. Now, you have to watch this tutorial– is shows clearly how to braid 6 strand challah.
Place both bread on the baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with clean cloth and leave it for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C.
Gentle brush the bread with the egg white and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, or using you fingers press some seeds to each section of bread, like shown in the tutorial.
Bake for about 30 minutes and cover with some kitchen foil if it goes too brown during the baking.