When I visited Baking Bites' blog site, I noticed this beautiful picture of Challah with Raisins. I love bread, and it seems to be calling me, so I went right to work. For Challah with Raisins recipe that I made mine from, please visit http://bakingbites.com/2010/09/challah-with-raisins. Since, I did not know what Challah meant, I consulted the Internet and found it to be quite in time for this holiday season. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challah, and I am glad I made it. My Challah is three rope braid. And not knowing the tradition, I added chopped cranberries. It tastes very good with raisins. I would like to try making the sufganiyot, like PONCHIK, the next time.
My Challah has some modification to the recipe I got from the Baking Bites' site. I added Tangzong - Flour ROUX to give extended moisture and softness as a test.
Tangzong - Flour ROUX is not my recipe either. I learned it from some of the Malaysian and Singaporean food bloggers. They reference Yvonne Chen, the bread doctor. For example, you can visit Pei-Lin's blog site. http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/2009/10/tangzhong-or-water-roux-method.html.
For Tangzong: Mix 25 g of flour with 125 ml of water in a saucepan. Have a thermometer ready. Mix well and cook over medium heat. While stirring continuously , measure the temperature often to make sure that it does not exceed 65'C (centigrade). Remove from heat to cool before use.
Since my kitchen is either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter, to make sure all my mixtures for the dough is at desirable proofing temp, I added my Tanzong roux while at 90'F (Farenheit) into the flour mixture.
Bread dough Ingredients:
Dissolve 1 tsp sugar + 1/2 C warm 110'F water + 1 Tbsp active dry yeast for 10 min. until bubbles form on top.
Manual Mixing (since I kind of gave up using my Kitchen Aid dough mixing function):
Total of flour used in my variation: 'approx.' 3-3/4 C + roughly 1/2 C for kneading
When it's about 8 minutes into the yeast fermentation, start adding 1/2 C oil, 1 Tbsp honey, 1/4 C sugar and 2 C flour and 1/2 C warm 110'F water in a large mixing bowl.
Mix all well together, and add yeast mixture. Add Tangzong. And mix all well together.
In the beginning, I was using a spoon to incorporate everything. You can use spatula or hand, but I know the mixture is very wet, and I was not yet ready to get my hands all occupied, so, you will see the spoon in the photo. Once the dough mixture is well mixed. I let it set for 5 minutes.
Bring two eggs to room temperature under warm water and chop 2/3 C of raisins and cranberries in the mean time.
Add 1 C flour, raisins and cranberries in. Pass two eggs through the mini-strainer to separate Albumen, chalazae, etc. and it's mashed evenly when done in the bowl.
Mix all well again with the spoon or with your hand.
The mixture is really wet. Transfer the mixture out to floured work surface.
Start pulling and pushing down the mixture. Adding handful more of flour up to 1 more Cup.
Repeat pulling and pushing down the mixture, scraping and rolling until the gluten is formed.
After an hour of manually 'kneading' the dough this way, the dough's gluten is well developed for me to round it to form a ball. Ready for the proofing.
Cover with plastic and a cover and place in a warm place to proof until double in size.
*I heated the oven to 350'F and turned it off. Waited 15 min and measured the interior temp. 85--87'F. I placed the bowl inside with lamp on. It took three hours for the dough to rise.
As I removed the plastic cover, the dough deflated on its own. I did not pound down any further because I want to keep as much air bubble as possible.
Transfer the dough to lightly floured work surface. Divided it into three equal parts.
Prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Set aside.
The dough is soft and pliable. Gently pull and elongate the dough. I rolled the dough into a log shape, then, rolled on the surface gently to form into a long rope. Repeat with the other two.
Braid the ropes and tuck the ends under.
Transfer to the baking sheet pan line with parchment paper.
Beat 1 egg whites with 1 tsp water - egg wash the formed dough.
Spray the plastic wrap with vegalene and lightly cover the dough for the 2nd rise.
I covered my dough with the inverted rectangular plastic container. Then, placed the sheet pan
back in the oven with light turned on. Proof until double in size.
Remove from the oven. Preheat the oven to 375'F.
I egg washed it again. Bake until deep golden brown. Interior temperature read 200'F.
Cool completely. **The crust of the bread will become tender as it cools.
You can view video of how I managed to knead the wet dough by visiting YouTube - How to Knead Wet Challah Dough - Step 1 of 4
(click on the photo to view larger image and other details)
FYI - After 8 days, a slice of toasted Challah or microwaved for 5 sec or just as is still tastes very good. & as for the Challah with Raisin, it turned out fantastic.