Covid Collaboration Polish Chałka

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Hope everyone has friends or acquaintances to help provide baking inspiration during quarantine. Luckily, Facebook can enable and help us create new contacts. Nothing like a group bake to add a little excitement to the quarantine routine.

Among my FB friends, the baking challenge chosen was a Polish Chalka. This is a braided egg bread with raisins, if you choose, and is similar to a Jewish challah. The recipe was an inspiration from the Spruce Eats so please check the site for her full recipe, tips and tricks. I missed to bake bread at Easter and this satisfied my craving.

The original recipe produced a large loaf of bread, and with only two people in my home, I decided to reduce the portions. Also, if you don’t have a stand mixer handling a large amount of dough by hand is challenging.

The below version is for a smaller bread but should be plenty for 4 – 5 people. I made a few tweaks, especially reducing the sugar.

Recipe
85 grams butter (room temperature)
100 grams sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
170 grams milk
6 grams instant dry yeast
1 egg (room temperature)
415 grams all purpose flour
80 grams raisins (optional)

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, heat the milk to just boiling then pour into a bowl and cool lightly. Add the butter, sugar, egg and salt and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the milk mixture in 4 – 5 portions to the flour so that it is easier to mix especially if you are it doing by hand. Use a spatula or bench scraper to mix the dough. If you have a stand mixer then you can use it with a dough hook to mix everything.
4. Once thoroughly mixed, put on a flat board and knead the dough until smooth. The dough should be soft and supple. If it feels tough, spray lightly with water and knead until it begins to feel soft. Roll into a ball and let sit under a bowl for about 10 minutes.
5. After the dough rests under the bowl, add the raisins and mix in thoroughly. Roll into a ball and put in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm space.
6. After the rise, divide into 3 equal pieces and shape into 3 logs about 35 cm long.  Braid the logs together and place on a baking sheet. Lightly brush with egg wash.
7. Let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes. Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes. If the bread starts to brown too quickly then cover with foil until baking is finished.
8. Cool thoroughly before cutting.

My braid was quite tight so was careful to bake thoroughly

Bread with jam is a great breakfast

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