May 13, 2011

Poppy Seed Challah

I have always had a fear of yeast.  What if I kill it?  What if it doesn't get warm enough and nothing happens?  Ridiculous?  Most certainly.  So last year I decided to conquer my fear of yeast by making bread that did not have to come out looking like a perfectly risen loaf of bread.  I decided to ease into the world of yeast by making a braided bread.  I searched online for recipes, and here is the one I picked.  It turned out to be a great find because every time I've made it, it has tasted (and looked) incredible.  I love to make this bread for company because they are always impressed, even though it is very easy to make.

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Poppy Seed Challah
(adapted from but basically the same as Miriam's Not-So-Secret Challah on

1 cup water
1/4 cup margarine or butter
3 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs

1/2 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds

1. Combine water and margarine (or butter) in a small saucepan and heat until margarine is just melted and water is warm but not boiling.  If it starts to boil, just let it cool off a bit.  This is the trickiest stage for me because it's hard to get it just the right temperature that yeast is supposed to be.  It should feel slightly warm but not hot to your wrist.  I tend to err on the side of it being too warm, since nothing will happen if it's too cold.  If you need help, ask someone or google it, but really, this is something I think you have to get in there and do yourself or you'll always fear this stage...if you're anything like me.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, yeast, and salt.  I use SAF Instant yeast, so you don't have to proof it first.
3. Add warm water and margarine mixture to flour mixture.  Beat well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Slowly beat in the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour until well mixed.  When dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes.
4. Form into a bowl and toss in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover and let it rise until doubled in size (about an hour).
5. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Follow the directions in this video for how to braid it into a loaf.  Cover and let rise until doubled in volume.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Brush the loaf with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
7. Enjoy your delicious and fabulous-looking loaf of bread.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting me know about your blog! I'm excited to try out this recipe and keep reading. Have a good one!


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