OLIVE OIL CHALLAH
A good measure of extra virgin olive oil imparts a beautiful pale greenish color to the crumb and gives this bread a moist texture and a flaky, brittle crust.
This savory challah is quickly mixed and easily shaped and, thanks to the low water/high-oil content, very easy to handle. Because this dough does not
hold it shape as well as some other dough's, form it into a simple ring or round, or a single-strand braid. Fancier forms would be wasted here.
This bread is good served with any menu, but it goes particularly well with Mediterranean-style food. It also makes excellent croutons and toasts.
Makes: Two 1-pound (450 grams) loaves or 1 1/2 pound (680-gram) loaf plus three 2-ounce (60-gram) rolls
Recipe Synopsis:Make a yeast slurry, then beat in the remaining ingredients and mix the dough. Let the dough rise for 2 to 3 hours.
Shape the dough and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours. Let the dough proof for 2 1/2 hours. Bake the breads for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on their size.
Time Required: About 7 hours.
| (CLICK TO BUY)
1 teaspoon (3 grams/0.1 ounce) instant yeast
3 3/4 cups (500 grams/17.6 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 cups (280 grams 9.9 ounces) warm water
1/2 cup (110 grams/3.8 ounces) good extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons (10 grams/0.4 ounces) table salt
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
|Mixing the Yeast Slurry|
In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and 1 1/4 (5.3 ounces) cups of the flour, then whisk in the warm water until smooth.
Let the slurry stand uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes., or until it begins to ferment and puff up slightly.|
|Mixing the Dough|
Whisk the oil and salt into the puffed yeast slurry until the mixture is smooth and the salt has dissolved.
With your hands or a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 2 1/2 cups (12.3 ounces) flour all at once.
When the mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape it out onto your work surface and knead until it is well mixed, fairy smooth,
and soft. (Soak your mixing bowl in hot water now to clean it and warm it for fermenting the dough.) If the dough is
too firm, add a tablespoon or two of water to it; if it seems too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour.|
The dough should be soft and glossy, and greenish if you used highly pigmented oil.|
|Fermenting the Dough|
When the dough is fully kneaded, place it in the warmed clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Let the dough ferment until it has tripled in bulk, 2 t o 3 hours, depending on the temperature in our kitchen.|
|Shaping and Refrigerating the Dough|
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or with foil; oil the foil. Divide the dough in half for two loaves or into one large piece for a large
loaf plus three smaller pieces for rolls (the easiest way to do this without a scale is to divide the dough into quarters and use one of them for the
rolls and the other three for the loaf). Braid or shape them as desired, and position them on the prepared sheet. Cover well with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the shaped loaves for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.|
|Proofing the Dough|
About 2 1/2 hours before you are ready to bake, remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them proof until tripled in size. |
Meanwhile, 30 minutes before baking, arrange an oven rack in the upper third position, remove any racks above it, and
preheat the oven to 425°F. If you wish, you can preheat a baking sheet in the oven to double with the
baking sheet the loaves are on.|
|Baking the Loaves|
When the loaves have tripled and do not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remain indented, brush them all over with
water, then sprinkle them heavily with sesame seeds. Bake the rolls for about 30 minutes, the smaller breads for about 40 minutes, or the
larger loaf for about 50 minutes, until very deeply browned. After the first 30 minutes of baking, switch the breads from front to back so
that they brown evenly. When the breads are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.|
Excerpted from A BLESSING OF BREAD copyright © 2004 Maggie Glezer.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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