Challahs All Around

It's the Christmas season and while I should get off my ass and learn how to make a Panettone, my seasonal loaf is usually a Challah. It's a straight enriched dough made with lots of sugar, butter and eggs. Mmmmm. It's also whipped up pretty quick and hence, makes a good gift in a pinch.

1. I use a bread machine for kneeding. To the pan in this order is added:
milk, 300g
honey, 40 g
sugar, 30 g
butter (softened), 48 g
yolks, 2
all purpose flour, 500 g
active dry yeast, 2 1/2 t
salt (kosher), 10 g

2. Kneed and 1st rise done in machine (preheat oven to 425F now).
3. Divide dough in 3 equal weight pieces, round each piece and let rest covered with a moist muslin (or flour sack) towel.
4. Convert each piece into a rope about 15" long.
5. Braid into a loaf and place loaf on a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet.
6. Cover loaf with moist towel for final proof, ca. 40 minutes.
7. Paint exterior of proofed loaf with egg yolk for glaze.
8. Place sheet in lower third of oven and blast once with steam.
9. Let cook until exterior is a rich brown color, ca. 30 minutes.
10. Let rest an hour before slicing. When stale, makes killer french toast.

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