Egg-Free Garlic Crusted Challah
Here's a fact: I LOVE CHALLAH.
Here's another fact: THIS IS MY FAVORITE CHALLAH.
I used to vacillate on the issue of which challah I would prefer having, if I had to choose between this egg-laden, sweet, dense, doughy challah I posted a long time ago on the blog, or this egg-free, not so sweet, more savory and light challah that I'm posting today.
I couldn't decide which one I preferred. I loved both, and to think of having to make the decision of which of the two I would pick, if I had to choose one to have for the rest of my life, seemed impossible and unbearable.
But now the choice is clear for me. I would definitely choose this recipe, this egg-free garlic crusted challah. This one wins. Probably because I'm a sucker for anything with a generous brushing of olive oil and garlic on it. And also because I'm over foods that are supposed to be savory and do not fall into the dessert category but are nevertheless heavily sweetened (sweet salad dressings, I'm talking to you).
So let's talk about this egg-free challah. Also known as water challah.
Traditionally, challah is much sweeter and richer than the average loaf of bread you'll find at the bakery. There's more sugar and eggs in challah bread than in regular bread. Challah is also a lot glossier than most breads thanks to the generous brushing of egg wash it gets before it's baked.
But we're moving away from traditional for this garlic crusted challah. Because first off, this challah bread is completely egg-free. You can choose to brush the challah with an egg wash if you want it to have that beautiful sheen, but if you for any reason need your challah to be egg-free, that's fine, because the actual dough contains no eggs, and you can simply brush the top with water.
This challah recipe is also unconventional in the fact that it's low on sugar. There's only a half a cup of sugar in the whole recipe, and this recipe is a big one - it yields five large loaves.
And another thing: the garlic crust. You don't usually find that on challah bread either. Because it wouldn't mesh with the sweet dough inside. But for this recipe, boy is it a game-changer.
So can we discuss the garlic crust now pleasepleaseplease??
It's the best thing ever. All you gotta do is mix together some good-quality olive oil with some freshly minced garlic AND some garlic powder. Yes, both. We want all the garlic flavor. Oh, and a little salt. Because salt is awesome too.
Then you brush this mixture liberally onto the bottoms of you challah/bread pans. You can get some of those challah pans here. And then you place your braided loaves of dough into the pans and bake em. And when they emerge beautifully golden-brown and hefty, you remove the loaves from the pans. And then you have amazing, egg-free challah loaves with an irresistible olive oil-garlic crust on bottom of them.
Oh, and if you were wondering what the green stuff was on top of my pictured challah, it's za'atar. Which is only the best spice ever and pairs perfectly with our olive oil and garlic crusted challah here.
Light, yet doughy challah. Savory and egg-free. Crusty and crunchy on the outside. Soft and pillowy on the inside. Flavor-bombed with olive oil and garlic. And poppy seeds or sesame seeds or za'atar or all three.
Bread, you make my heart swell with happiness. Thanks for the recipe, Mom <3
egg-free garlic crusted challah
Yield: about 5 loaves
- Minced garlic
- Garlic Powder
4 1/4 packets instant dry yeast (1/4 oz. in each packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
5 LB. bread flour + more if needed
5 cups water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
- Egg, for brushing (or water, for completely egg-free version)
- Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, everything mixture, or za'atar, for sprinkling
Whisk together garlic crust mixture and then brush your bread/challah pans (about five of them) or baking sheets liberally with the mixture.
Add the yeast, then sugar into the bowl of your machine (or a regular bowl). Pour the 1 cup warm water over the mixture. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the yeast sit 5-10 minutes, till it foams.
Once yeast is activated, add the rest of the ingredients to your machine, ending with the salt.
Let the machine knead the dough for a while (I do 12 minutes of kneading on medium speed in my machine).
The dough will be sticky. If it's REALLY sticky, add more flour.
Grease a large bowl with oil and place the dough into it. Flip the dough over so both sides get coated. Cover with a garbage bag (or towel) and let the dough rise in a warm spot till doubled in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Once the dough is doubled in size, preheat oven to 350 F. Divide the dough into 5 sections and braid 5 large loaves (see video tutorial here). For simplest braid, roll out three equal strands of dough and connect/pinch them at the top. Proceed to braid the dough like you would your hair. Connect the strands at the bottom by pinching. You can also make rolls or any sized loaves you desire. Place the loaves into your garlic-lined pans or sheets.
Cover the loaves with a towel and place them on the stove where the oven is pre-heating. Let the loaves rise again for 30-45 minutes, or until the loaves puff up and spread to the edges of the loaf pans. Brush the loaves with a beaten egg (0r water) and, if desired, sprinkle with toppings of choice.
Bake challah for about 45-55 minutes, or until the challah turns golden-brown. Remove loaves from their pans and line them on a rack to cool.
You can freeze these loaves in ziplock bags, eat them right away, or use them for french toast a few days later.