Saturday, February 9, 2013

Heavenly Challah

We used to have a Great Harvest Bread store in the area that made the most amazing challah bread, a rich and egg-y loaf intended for Jewish celebrations. It made the best French toast we ever had. Over a recent family meal, we found ourselves mourning the loss of Great Harvest in general, and that challah bread in particular.

And then I thought to myself, "Self, this is why God made the Web. I bet between me and Google we can figure out how to challah." And did we ever.


Going straight to the point, I Googled for the "recipe for Great Harvest challah". I found an interview with the owner, Don Kinney, wherein he relates that a customer gave him their family recipe for it: "It’s a simple recipe, it’s flour and eggs and yeast and honey. I use honey instead of sugar."

How hard could that be? Googling on, this time for "honey challah" and sifting through the resulting recipes, I happened on this one: Most Amazing Challah. It didn't have honey in it, but I didn't have any honey in the house anyway. Plus, it was getting five-star raves and it made a lot. (REALLY a lot. More on that in a bit.) If I'm going to spend hours on baking something, I do want to end up with a lot of whatever that something is.

The recipe calls for quick-rising yeast and pareve margarine. Didn't have them either. So I substituted regular yeast and butter, and did the standard two-risings method.

And, as previously noted, it makes A LOT: "2 big loaves or 4 regular-sized ones". In fact, there was so much dough my mixer couldn't handle it all. I had to haul out the biggest bowl I owned, transfer it into there, and have the hubby strong-arm the last of the flour into it.

I divided it into two loaves. They practically filled the oven. Once baked, each one nearly covered a whole cookie sheet and stood 5-6 inches tall in the middle. Impressive. Maybe a little intimidating.

And. It. Was. Perfect! We all agreed it was just like the Great Harvest version, same texture, taste, aroma - this bread has it all.

Big project. Big mess. Big bread. Totally worth it.


Daryl said...

ALL margarine is pareve margarine (as long as you dont serve it with meat - keeping kosher you can't mix meat and dairy ) ... look at the box, you will see a little 'k' or 'u' ... i made challah once when i was into baking .. it was a lot of work but honestly baking any bread is a lot of work ...

what a gorgeous challah!!!

MyMaracas said...

Thanks Daryl - I learn something every day. :-)