Easter Bread vs. Challah: Make Both With These Recipes
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Challah Or Easter Bread: Make Both With These Recipes

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

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loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets
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Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

A few weeks ago, I was given a loaf of bread called Challah (pronounced like holla), and upon my first bite, I realized it tasted just like Easter Bread. It was so delicious that I just had to make some of my own, which I did.

a fresh loaf of challah bread just out of the oven StableDiffusion

The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients

2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the egg wash)
1/4 cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil

Instructions
  1. Combine yeast and a pinch of sugar in small bowl with the water and stir until you see a frothy layer across the top.
  2. Whisk together 4 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour and add in eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Whisk these together to form a slurry, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry and mix until difficult to move.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky, but no longer like bubblegum. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball-shape.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  7. Separate the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope roughly 1-inch thick and 16 inches long.
  8. Gather the ropes and squeeze them together at the very top. Braid the pieces in the pattern of over, under, and over again. Pinch the pieces together again at the bottom.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lift the loaf on top. Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and drape it with a clean dishcloth. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts and let it rise until puffed and pillowy, about an hour.
  10. Heat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the reserved egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf.
  11. Slide the challah on its baking sheet into the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The challah is done when it is deeply browned.

I kept wondering how these two breads could be so similar in taste. So I decided to look up a recipe for Easter Bread to make a comparison. The two are almost exactly the same! These recipes are similar because they come from religious backgrounds. The Jewish Challah bread is based on kosher dietary laws. The Christian Easter Bread comes from the Jewish tradition but was modified over time because they did not follow kosher dietary laws.

a fresh loaf of easter bread with easter eggs around it StableDiffusion

A recipe for Easter bread is as follows:

Ingredients

2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 tbs butter
2 large eggs
2 tbs melted butter
1 tsp salt

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.
  2. Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the five colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Both of these recipes are really easy to make. While you might need to have a day set aside for this activity, you can do things while the dough is rising or in the oven. After only a few hours, you have a delicious loaf of bread that you made from scratch, so the time and effort is really worth it!

fresh loaves of bread stacked on top of each other near an easter basket and easter eggs StableDiffusion

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