Friday, June 18, 2010

Challah Buns or Rolls

Challah is a traditional Jewish Sabbath egg bread, typically braided to form a handsome loaf, but challah dough can also be used to make tasty buns or rolls. My challah recipe comes from the oh-so-recommended Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary Edition).

Dissolve 2 1/4 tsp. yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (about 5 minutes). Add 1/2 cup flour, 2 lightly beaten large eggs, 2 lightly beaten yolks (keep the separated whites for a wash later), 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, 3 tbsp. sugar, and 1 1/4 tsp. salt. I use a whisk to mix by hand until blended thoroughly. Then, gradually stir in 2 1/2 cups flour (I usually stir in a 1/2 cup at a time).  Knead the dough for 8 minutes, until elastic and smooth (it shouldn't stick to your hands). Put the dough in an oiled bowl (I use olive oil for this), and cover with a clean cloth to let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down the risen dough, knead it a little, and put it back in the bowl, cover it, and put it in the fridge for 2-12 hours. I usually let mine rise in the fridge for about 3 hours, which seems to be fine.

For traditional braided challah, this is where the shaping of ropes and braids comes in, but for the rolls/buns, just divide the dough into six balls of equal size. Lightly oil a baking sheet (again, I use olive oil) and place the dough balls on it, covered, in a warm place for about 45 minutes. They will rise substantially, so don't worry if they look too small at this stage.

For baking, heat your oven to 375 degrees (F) and while it's heating, brush the dough balls with the egg whites (with a pinch of salt added, if you prefer). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bottoms of the rolls sound hollow when tapped and the tops are golden brown. Let the rolls cool on a rack, and they're ready to be cut into buns for burgers or sandwiches, or used as sweet rolls for breakfast or snacks.