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Challah and Brioche are close cousins. The Northern part of France, rich with pastures and dairy cows and lush, green meadows make for the butteriest Brioche, golden and soft and impossibly delicious. The drier coasts of Southeastern France are more hospitable to goats and olive trees and a more savory version of the pillowy bread, this one enriched with olive oil in place of butter, making it ubiquitous with Challah.
The beauty of these breads is that the fats added to them (butter, oil, eggs or a combination of any of these) is that they produce a tighter crumb. The dough is just dry enough to shape into anything from a braid to a crown (or a braided crown)! and stable enough to freeze. But let’s be real; our recipe here makes a big batch of two loaves because we want French Toast for breakfast tomorrow.
- 1-1/3 cups Water just barely warm
- 4 Eggs
- 3 Yolks
- 1/2 cup Olive oil
- 6 cups Bread flour
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Honey
- 2 envelopes Instant or rapid rise yeast about 5 tsps
- 3 tsp Salt
- Place the water, yeast, sugar, honey, eggs, yolks and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. If making this by hand, stir these around in a large bowl.
- Add the flour and salt and mix with the dough hook on your mixer for about 8 minutes. If making by hand, start by mixing the dough with a wooden spoon and finish by kneading the dough on the counter for about 6 minutes.
- Cover the dough and let it rise for about one hour, or place immediately in the fridge for 8-10 hours.
- Once risen, take the dough (from the bowl or from the fridge) and split it in half. Choose your own adventure here- braid it, twist it or roll it up. Don’t sweat the small stuff, just make the braids and twists as tight as you can. Start with lightly, and we mean really lightly, oiling your counter (we prefer oil in place of flour to keep the dough from sticking too much). Place a piece of parchment paper or foil on two cookie sheets. Shape your breads and place them on the parchment or foil, brushing another piece of parchment or plastic with a touch of oil before covering them.
- Proof the breads (just leave them out covered) for 1 hour, or 1-1/2 hours if the dough came from the fridge. Preheat your oven to 375F. Make an egg wash by whisking 2 egg whites with 1/4 cup of water.
- Once proofed, brush each loaf with the egg wash and let them sit 5 minutes. Bake each loaf between 25 and 30 minutes.