Flax Challah Braid
Ever since my sourdough starter died of heat and humidity, I've resorted to making yeast breads in my laziness. I could quite easily have a sourdough starter while we're in cooler climates, but I guess I've been more excited to do some experimenting on easier, quicker breads to be made while sailing or whenever the bread bug tickles our fancy.
This bread doesn't take much work but produces a nice, flavorful, pretty loaf that will be sure to please any crew. Our friends on S/V Sea Yawl saw my last Instagram post on braided bread and decided to make their own loaf. It was way prettier than my earlier loaf was so I copied them and made a traditional 3 strand braid for this recipe, which is still not as pretty as theirs.
Side note: I know I use the words easy and quick a lot on this blog to describe what I feel about the recipes' difficulty. I know I'm forgetting all the experiential knowledge that comes after making hundreds of loaves of bread (not all successfully, might I remind you) and baking thousands of things in general. When I use the term easy, I'm hoping that you won't need loads of experience to create the same baking outcomes that experienced bakers have. Easy, and quick in regards to this recipe simply means that if you follow the recipe and instructions, it shouldn't be that difficult to make something that hopefully resembles what the recipe intended. It shouldn't take you all day (disregard the proving time) and it should make the baker feel at least a little bit accomplished at the end of the day. Hopefully this recipe is aptly categorized as "easy."
Make this bread and let me know if it was "easy!"
Flax Challah Braid
3 cups flour (I used white flour)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
1-2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons flax soaked in 5 Tablespoons water
1 package active dry yeast
2/3 - 3/4 cup warm water or milk
Put flour, egg, oil, sugar, honey, and flax in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over ingredients and add warm water or milk. Mix until dough forms, adding more flour or water as necessary. Knead in the bowl or on the counter for 5 minutes until a soft, semi-sticky dough forms. Dough shouldn't be too sticky as to stick to your fingers, but rather should have enough oil that it comes off the bowl and your hands cleanly.
Grease bowl with olive oil and turn dough ball over to coat with oil before letting it rest, covered, in a warm place for 1.5 hours. Punch down dough and let rise another hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Divide dough into 3 parts and roll each part out into a long strand. Place 3 strands vertically next to each other and braid: start with right strand and place it over middle strand, making it the new middle strand. Then take the left strand and place it over the middle strand, making it the new middle strand. Repeat this process until the dough strands are all braided. This process may be made easier if you braid the strands on the baking sheet that will be used to bake the bread. Finish ends by pinching excess together and forming a clean-looking end.
Let dough rest for additional 30 minutes. Use pastry brush to coat loaf with egg wash (1 egg white). Bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top.