This challa recipe is really dear to my heart. My mom is a great baker and growing up with the smell of baking in the house is a wonderful memory for me. Being a helper in my mom’s kitchen, I noticed one major problem! Quantities. Ever since I got married I’ve been trying to mimic my mom’s delicious water challa. My mom gladly gave me the recipe of course, however, there is no really a recipe to it! Confused?! Me too! It is one of those “eyeball” recipes that water is not measured, oil is just drizzled, flour is how much you find in the pantry... and although it sounded so easy from her side, I just couldn’t do it. Until after a 100 trials (or more :) I figured it out. I was looking to get as close as possible to the crunchy texture in the crust. And today this challa is one of my real favorites. It is not sweet, not soft, neither fancy looking. There is not even an egg wash on it and yet it is so decadent and special. For me the crust says it all. Dipping it in the Moroccan fish sauce is heavenly. Give it a try! (Although this is a water challa, it does contains eggs; however you won't feel it in the texture)
Please read notes in order to get the right texture!!!
In a small bowl mix the eggs and oil.
Have your measured water ready and start with 4 cups only! Leave the last two for the end. You might not need it.
Have your salt measured and ready.
So this is the process:
A. Start your mixer on low and after one minute add the 4 cups water. Mix for about 2 minutes and slowly add the egg and oil mixture. At this point all you need to do is raise the speed to medium (2-4) and let it work for about 2-3 minutes. Add some more water to the point that the dough starts to separate itself from the bowl. If you feel like the dough is too dry, add water little by little and after another minute or two to add the 2 Tbsp of salt.The salt absorbs all the moisture that is left and should completely form a nice solid ball from the dough. Mix for another 2-3 minutes and transfer to a bigger bowl that was very lightly oiled with a paper towel. Cover with a plastic bag and a towel on top and let rise in a warm place for one hour. Punch it once or twice in-between.
B. Prepare few baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Dust your surface with some of the flour that you’ve kept and transfer the dough. Roll it on the counter so it’s all lightly covered with flour. With a sharp knife, divide into the amount of challas that you desire. I do 10-12 medium ones. Shape and place on the parchment paper. Cover with a clean towel or closed big garbage bag.
C). Let rise for at least 45 minutes.
D). Preheat your oven to 375F (I use the convection feature) and let it work 15 minutes before you insert the first tray. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden. Take out and let cool completely.
E). At this point that challas are ready; however, in my case, AFTER THEY HAVE COOLED, they go to the freezer as I do not usually bake them on Fridays.
As you shape the challas, cover the unshaped dough with a clean towel or closed big garbage bag so it doesn’t dry.
Better to use the middle rack to get an even crust.
You will notice that after one hour the challas have cooled and they are not so crispy any longer as when you took them out of the oven and the crust is a little soft. So this step can NOT be skipped!
WHENEVER YOU'RE READY TO EAT THESE CHALLAS LET THEM DEFROST AND WARM THEM UP FOR ABOUT 5 MINUETS IN A PREHEATED 300F OVEN. THE CRUST WILL BE CRUNCHY AND BEAUTIFUL. NOW YOU CAN ENJOY!!!