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October 11, 2011

Unseasonably Warm

By: Brandon Nichols

I am not sure if you have noticed but it is unseasonably warm. This weekend I was able to walk down to the National Mall in shorts and lay out on a blanket. That is not okay. Actually, that is very okay. In fact, I would not mind if this weather stayed around a little bit longer, aka forever. While I am enjoying the nice weather it is putting a damper on my Fall cooking. At this point, I should be baking up a storm. Whipping out Apple Cobbler and pumpkin-related treats almost on a daily basis. Sadly, the warm weather does not justify it. I mean, how can I justify taking in that many calories when I am not yet able to wear a sweater? (Please see related photo). However, I know that it is coming!

So what have I been up to? Well, this past weekend was Yom Kippur and the weekend before it was Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). In honor of these important High Holydays, I have created a few Jewish dishes. Today, I would like to share the recipe I use for Challah, an egg-based bread used for many Jewish holidays and Shabbat.

I know what you are thinking: bread? I cannot make bread! That is not true – everyone cane make bread. It is one of those tasks that seem daunting at first, such as riding a bike, but it gets easier each time you do it. This particular type of bread is a pleasure to work with while you are kneading (a gentle folding technique).

This recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook. If you do not own that cookbook go out and buy it the moment you are done making this bread.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

  • 3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (save 1 egg white for the wash, below)

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water


  • Mix the ingredients for the sponge together in a large bowl and let if sit for about 45 minutes.
  • Add the dough ingredients to the starter and mix and knead together – by hand, mixer or bread machine – until a smooth supple dough is formed.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it over once to coat it lightly with oil.
  • Cover with a clean dish cloth and let rise for 1½  hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it once or twice to gently deflate. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each piece into an 18 inch log. On a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, braid a four-strand braid
  • In a small bowl, mix together reserved egg white, sugar, and water. Brush the loaf with this mixture, reserving some for a second wash. Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap and let it rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the loaf with remaining egg wash and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove it from the oven and cool completely before slicing.

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