Mar 25, 2020  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Education,

JNF On Demand: Live challah bake with JNF first lady Lauren Lizerbram

We were welcomed into the Lizerbram kitchen for a challah bake with JNF first lady Lauren Lizerbram and with special commentary from JNF national president Sol Lizerbram.

You can find the challah bake, here.

Take photos of your challahs when done and tag Jewish National Fund‑USA on Facebook!

Ingredients needed for First Lady Lauren’s recipe:

SPONGE STARTER
(30-90 minutes ahead— longer won't hurt)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
A pinch of sugar
Approximately 2 cups bread flour

DOUGH
All of the starter (above)
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup sugar
31/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, at room temperature, plus I egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour
½ teaspoon vanilla

EGG WASH/TOPPING
1 egg plus l egg yolk
Pinch of salt
Sesame or poppy seeds, for sprinkling

SPONGE: In a very large bowl, place the water and dry yeast & the pinch of sugar and mix together. Allow the mixture to stand for a couple of minutes to let the yeast swell or dissolve. Stir in the 2 cups of flour, make a soft, thick pudding like batter. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and leave it for 30 to 60 minutes. If you see the sponge is rising beyond the limits of the bowl during its fermentation period, stir it down.

DOUGH: Stir down the spongy mixture in the work bowl, then add the rest of the water, sugar, salt, eggs, yolk, oil, vanilla and about 5 cups of the flour. (If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, stir down the sponge and put it into the work bowl). Work with your hands, a large wooden spoon, or the mixing paddle of your mixer to make a soft dough. Mix until the dough is not smooth but a messy mass.

Cover it with a damp towel and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes (this allows the dough to relax; it changes its character by absorbing the flour better. It will be a lot easier to manage). After this rest period, knead the dough with the dough hook or by hand until it’s smooth and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour as required to make a dough that is easy to handle (i.e ... not too sticky or tacky). Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl.

Place the bowl in a large clear garbage bag and seal it loosely. Let it rise in a draft-free, warm environment, until almost doubled, anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
(You can also give it an overnight refrigerator rise if you are doing this a day in advance.)

When the dough has risen, whisk together the ingredients for the egg wash. Gently deflate the dough. Divide it in half for 2 loaves. Form the dough into braided loaves (this dough also makes good rolls).

Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the bread thoroughly with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Insert the entire baking sheet in a large, plastic bag and loosely seal. Let the loaves rise until doubled about 45 to 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the bread in the oven, and bake until breads are medium brown in color, 30 to 35 minutes for 2 loaves. If the loaves are browning too quickly, cover lightly with aluminum foil.  When the challah is baked, cool on racks.  

NOTE: If the dough seems too massive or unmanageable for your mixer (depending on the weather and kitchen humidity and how much flour you add overall), you may remove half of it and allow the machine to knead one portion at a time for the allotted time. 

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