First Attempt: Challah

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If you have not had Challah before, DO IT RIGHT NOW.    A traditional Jewish sweet bread usually eaten on Fridays and holidays, Challah is delicious on its own or made into french toast the day after.  I wanted to try this recipe because instead of raisins, it called for  apples! Everyone loves apples at my house!  Then there’s the fact that I just love bread.  I mean, I REALLY LOVE BREAD. The apples are optional, and quite honestly, you can add whatever you want to the base dough.  A few ideas that were kicked around:  chives, parmesan and whole roasted garlic cloves.  The possibilities are endless with this dough!

Ingredients:

Salted butter                   1 stick

Bread Flour                      3.5 cups

Warm Water  (100 degrees)                 3/4 cup

Honey                                      2/3 cup

Eggs  (room temperature!)                                 2

Egg Yolks     (room temperature!)                    2

Fast Acting Yeast            1 packet

Salt                                    2 tsp

Apples                             1 and 3/4 cups, small diced

Instructions:

  1. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (you are only using half of this for the dough.  The rest of it is to brush the top fo the dough at different stages).  Cool.
  2. Combine 2 TBSP melted butter, flour, warm water, yeast, eggs, yolks, 1/3 cup honey and salt in a large bowl.  Mix until dough forms then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough until smooth, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer smooth dough into greased large bowl.  Brush the top with melted butter and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until double in size, about 1 and 1/2 hours.
  4. Turn dough onto floured surface and pat dough out to a rectangle, about 9×14 inches. on 1/3 of the dough, spread a layer of apples, fold 1/3 of dough on top of the apple layer.  Spread the rest of the apples on the top layer of dough.  Incorporate apples by kneading lightly and form a ball.  Place dough back into greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter again.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again, 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and make sure rack is in the middle of the oven.
  6. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead quickly into a ball.  Cut into 4 pieces.  Roll out each piece of dough to about 13-14 inches.  Make a square braid with the dough and pinch the ends.

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Again,brush the top with melted butter, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again, about 45 minutes.

7. Heat remaining 4 TBSP butter with 1/3 cup honey and brush half of it onto the whole loaf.  Save the other half for the finished loaf.  Bake until golden, about 30-35              minutes.  Internal temperature should reach 195.

8. Brush Challah with remaining honey butter goo.  Let bread cool.

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The Best Dinner Rolls…EVER!

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The photo does not do it justice.  These rolls are fricken delicious!  Pillowy soft and lightly sweet, patience is what is necessary when attempting to make these buttery fluff nuggets!  The layer of melted butter and a generous sprinkle of rock salt is a little over the top, but it’s a rare occasion when I make bread, so I embrace it with all I’ve got.  This recipe is made for a dinner party, so cutting it in half would nicely feed a family of 4. Unless you live with 2 guys, like me…you can easily make the whole recipe!  Allow yourself 3 hours including prep and baking time.  Have fun!

INGREDIENTS:

Boiling water                           2 c.

Butter, room temperature   1/2 c.

Active dry yeast                       2 pkgs.

Warm water (105-115F)     1/2 c.

AP Flour                                      9-10 c.

Sugar                                           1/2 c.

Eggs                                             3

Salt                                              1 and 1/2 tsp.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a medium bowl, melt butter in hot water.  Bring the temperature down to 105-115F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and add the butter mixture, 3 cups of flour, sugar, eggs and salt.
  3. Mix at medium speed, scraping the bowl often until the dough is smooth.
  4. Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle (not so sticky).
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes)
  6. Place in a greased bowl, greased side up.
  7. Cover with a towel and let rise until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour).
  8. Dough is ready when indentation remains when it is touched.

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9.  Punch down dough and divide dough in half.

10.  Shape each half into 24 rounds and place in greased 13×9 baking pans.

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11.  Cover with a towel and let it rise until double in size (about 1 hour).

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12.  Heat oven to 400 F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush tops with a crap ton of butter and   sprinkle with rock salt or your favorite flavored salts (rosemary, truffle, etc).

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Recruit your kids to help out with rolling the dough and brushing the butter onto the hot bread.  They will be impressed with the fruits of their labor!