This recipe makes four 1-lb (500 g) loaves.1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
- 1 ½ Tbs active dry yeast
- 1 ½ Tbs Kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup unsalted butter (or neutral-tasting vegetable oil), melted and slightly cooled
- 7 cups flour
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water)
- About ½ cup or more coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter (warm, not hot) with the water.
- Mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon, a food processor or stand mixer. I used the spoon. Stir and fold just until all of the flour is blended into the wet ingredients and is moist.
- Cover with plastic wrap (not airtight) and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should rise then collapse.
- The dough can be used right away but is easier to work with when chilled. I made the dough the day before I made the Challah. Simply knock down the dough to deflate then cover with a fresh piece of plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.
To prepare the bread:
- I used a small 6 x 3 ¾ x 2 ¼ inch cardboard loaf pan given to me by my great friend Clare. I pulled off a grapefruit-sized ball of dough (1 pound/500 g) from the chilled dough and placed on a well-floured work surface. Now, as you will see from the photographs, the pan was too small or the dough was too much (a regular loaf tin would work), but it still came out perfectly!
- I gently kneaded the dough, adding extra flour, until it was no longer sticky. I very gently rolled the dough out to a rectangle of about 6 x 10 inches with the narrow side towards me. I brushed the surface all the way to the edges with about 1 tablespoon (15 g) of very softened butter then I brushed/dabbed on about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. I sprinkled on ¼ to ½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts.
- Using my dough scraper to help it along, I carefully rolled up the dough, rolled it in a bit more flour and somehow lifted it into the waiting loaf pan.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 1 hour 20 minutes (40 minutes for unchilled, freshly-made dough). It should double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle on more coarsely chopped hazelnuts.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes for a 9-inch loaf pan; I baked mine for 40 minutes as my loaf pan was too small. The top of the loaf should be a deep golden brown (don’t hesitate to cover the bread with a piece of foil during the baking if you think it is browning too quickly) and crusty and the inside should spring back when pressed in the center. The top cracks a bit and I could peek in a see when the insides were done.
- Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top of the loaf liberally with about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
- Allow to cool before slicing.