Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Cuisinart and Challah Bread

I have to say, I love my Cuisinart! I love to have fresh bread, and although I have a bread maker it is just not the same as doing it by hand, OK.......mostly by hand.

I decided to make a Challah bread. Challah is a Jewish egg bread that is braided and is usually eaten on the Sabbath or holidays. My version is slightly sweet and flavored with vanilla paste.

The Cuisinart does the mixing and initial kneading which means it takes about 7 minutes to put this together. Nathan found he likes to punch the dough down after it rises and 'punch and fold' it (his 14 year old boy version of kneading). With a Cuisinart and a helper it just as easy as using a bread machine, although kneading is a great way to work of some aggression.

This can be made completely by hand and really is not hard at all. Just be patient, it is worth the wait.

Vanilla Challah Bread

2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 C. & 1 tsp. sugar, divided
3/4 C. warm water
1 T vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

Vanilla egg wash

1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
1/2 tsp. sugar
Mix all to combine well.

Dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in warm water in a large measuring cup. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add beaten eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla paste, stir gently to combine.

Insert dough blade into the large work bowl of Cuisinart. Add flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and butter and process on the dough speed about 15 seconds(or pulse until butter is incorporated - 5 or 6 times). With the machine running on dough speed, add liquid through the feed tube as fast as the flour absorbs it. Once the dough cleans the sides of the work bowl and forms a ball, process for 45 seconds to knead dough. Dough should be smooth and elastic, if needed add a little flour (if sticky) or water (if too dry) and process until combined. (If you are doing this in a mixer or by hand combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until combined. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.)

Place dough in a large greased glass bowl, turning dough to grease the entire surface, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has doubled, about 2 hours. If you would like you can allow dough to rise overnight (or all day) in the refrigerator (cold rise) and continue the next day (this works well in hot weather, allowing you to bake when it is coolest). For a lighter loaf punch down dough and knead for a few minutes and allow to rise again until double in a greased bowl.

Once risen, punch dough down and divide into two equal parts. Divide each half into three equal parts. Allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into a long rope. Braid the three strands loosely into two separate loaves, tuck the very ends under each end of the loaf. Place on two separate lightly greased baking sheets or line each with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap until doubled in size, about one hour.

Preheat over to 400.

Brush loaves with vanilla egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 one pound loaves.
(Recipe adapted from Cuisinart Elite Edition booklet)

*Note: Vanilla bean paste is a convenient, easy-to-use replacement for whole vanilla beans. Since you can see the vanilla bean seeds, it adds a gourmet appearance, in addition to delicious flavor. It can be found in gourmet food stores, Trader Joe's (holiday season only) and can be purchased online.

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