Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes

Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes
Chef Ilona Szabo Reveals The Secrets of Hungarian Cooking

Monday, January 18, 2010

CHALLAH- JEWISH BREAD - Fonot Zsido Kalács

Fonot Zsido Kalács
Challah is  traditional egg bread prepared for the Jewish Sabbath and festivals.  They are often braided in complex ways, but a simple 3-stranded braid is used here. Large Challahs shaped with several braids of different sizes are prepared for weddings, bar mitzvahs, or other celebrations. 

Similar rich brioche-like often braided breads, are also traditional in many other countries, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic among non-Jewish peasant populations.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup warm water
3 cups flour
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
¼ cup luke-warm water
2 eggs
1 egg, beaten with
1 tbsp water
4 tbsp poppy seed or
4 tbsp sesame seeds
¾ cup sultana raisins
3 tbsp honey

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the sugar and ½ cup water. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm place until well-risen, about 15-20 minutes.

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a warmed bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the proofed yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating the liquid into the flour. Gradually add 2 beaten eggs and oil until combined and forms sticky dough. Turn the dough onto floured board and knead for about 2-5 minutes until smooth and elastic and it doesn't stick to your hands. Add flour is required so dough is no longer sticky.  Put dough in a warmed, greased bowl. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in volume: about 2 hours.

Punch down dough and let rise 2nd time. If time is of the essence, divide into six balls after 1st punch down.  Roll balls between your palms into long ropes; about 1" wide. Braid three strips together and place on greased cookie sheet. Wrap ends neatly underneath loaf. Repeat with the remaining three strips to make another loaf. Cover loaves with a linen tea towel and leave rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Alternate shapes:  Take entire dough and roll between your hands into a long thick rope and coil up like a snail starting at centre and working outwardly.  Tuck end under and cover with linen towel and let rise until double in volume.  Brush with egg yolks and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Brush loaves with egg/water mix and sprinkle with seeds. Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F until golden brown. Let cool on rack.

Raisin Challah: Follow instructions using 3 tbsp honey and add ¾ cup sultana raisins to dough about 20 seconds after it comes together after adding liquid ingredients.  Do not braid.

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