For my entire life, I have had a deep and abiding love of all things bread. I have a bucket list dream to visit Paris for two weeks and simply eat bread. To walk leisurely past boulangerie after boulangerie, gazing longingly at the loaves of fresh bread and picking one that had just the right crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on-the-inside combination. That loaf would then be systematically devoured slice by slice, after being smothered in butter sprinkled with French sea salt, of course. It’s good to have goals, right? Is it okay that my goals are simply to enjoy a city by eating every carb its citizens create? I think so. There are worse things.
When Disney released the recipe last week for Kronk’s Challah Bread via Twitter, I was instantly intrigued. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, one of my most favorite things to do on the days that I felt like I wanted to treat myself was to visit the Au Bon Pain located in my local mall’s food court. Can we all just agree that malls in the late 80’s/early 90’s were the best things EVER?
I would step up to the counter and purchase a loaf of their fresh Challah bread all for myself. Yes, I ate some right then and there, and took the remainder home. And I’m sure that my mom, dad, and little sister enjoyed a bite or two, but that loaf of bread was all about those first few bites being shoved into my mouth as quickly as possible. It was fresh, with a slight crunch on the outside. It was perfect; and, if I remember correctly, it cost all of three dollars and change. I just love fresh bread.
So when Kronk’s version of my favorite bread came across my Twitter feed last week, I knew I might need to give it a whirl. Kronk, the lovable sidekick of villain Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove, wouldn’t steer us wrong, would he? I mean he might steer himself wrong while not really realizing that he was doing so, but he wouldn’t purposefully steer someone else wrong, right? After surveying the recipe, and seeing that you and I could easily attempt this bread with items that we might already have in our kitchens, I decided to give it a go. Also, while we’re agreeing on things, can we all just agree that The Emperor’s New Groove is both spectacular and sorely underrepresented in the Disney parks? It’s an underappreciated hit with an all-star cast. Eartha Kitt as Yzma? Sheer perfection. I digress.
I have to admit that I never got into the whole it’s a pandemic; we’re making bread thing last year. We have however, over the course of the past 15 months here at Saturday Snacks, whipped up some pretty amazing Disney bread varieties. Just in case you’d like to look back at the carb-filled recipes we’ve made in the past, be sure to check out Yacht Club’s Cobblestone Cheese Bread, Kona Cafe’s Sweet Bread, Sanaa’s Naan Bread, and EPCOT’s Pão de Queijo.
The most exotic thing that you’ll need for Kronk’s Challah Bread will be either active dry or instant yeast. I still had some of the instant variety left in my pantry, so I was good to go. You’ll need 2 teaspoons for the recipe, so all you need is just under one envelope’s worth.
Our first step is to proof the yeast. While the recipe calls for us to use lukewarm water, the yeast envelope itself gives us further details. We’re to make sure that the water is between 120 and 130°. Using my handy-dandy kitchen thermometer, I was able to ensure that the water was just the right temp. I’m always a little hesitant when it comes to proofing yeast; I’m just perpetually afraid that it won’t work correctly. Nonetheless, I forged on.
To that cup of water, I added 2 teaspoons of instant yeast and a pinch of sugar. The recipe asks that we stir it up so that it’s fully combined, and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes so that it can produce a frothy layer on top of the water. After 5 minutes, the frothy layer wasn’t much, so I gave it another 5. After a total of 10 minutes, I saw a bit more of a layer than before, but I still felt like it needed to proof more.
My yeast bloomed for 20 minutes before I felt like it was where it needed to be. And it still wasn’t as foamy as the cute little illustration on the recipe made it appear that it would be. But I deemed it to be satisfactory, and rolled with it.
While your yeast is proofing, grab the largest bowl that you have in the cabinet and toss in 4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir everything really well to make sure that it’s completely combined.
The recipe now calls for us to pour into the middle of the bowl of dry ingredients two whole eggs, one egg yolk (be sure to save the egg white for the egg wash that’ll be needed), and a 1/4 cup of oil. I made a little well in the middle of the dry ingredients and poured the eggs and oil in.
The recipe says that we’re to whisk these ingredients into the flour mixture, and that’s a bit easier said than done. As soon as you drop that whisk into the bowl and start stirring, all of the ingredients will clump inside of the whisk and you’ll need to dig them out just a bit here and there. But stick with it; after a bit of elbow grease, the ingredients in the bowl will resemble breadcrumbs in size, and that’s right where you need them to be. Essentially, you’re cutting in the ingredients. Hang in there and just keep whisking.
Once your dry ingredients are combined with the egg mixture, you and I need to toss in that yeast at whatever level of foaminess it happens to be.
Pour in the yeast/water mixture and mix everything until a dough “that is tough to mix” begins to form.
If you’ve been looking for a chance to begin working out more, you’re about to receive your golden opportunity. You and I now need to turn the dough onto a surface that’s been lightly floured and knead it for 10 minutes. Now while the recipe says that the surface will need to be lightly floured, I had to use quite a bit of flour. As soon as my dough hit a spot of my counter’s surface that wasn’t covered in flour, it stuck. Thus, I used plenty of flour, set the timer for 10 minutes, and got my bicep workout.
In the end, you want the dough to get to the point where it is smooth and will hold its shape.
Once you’ve kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, grab a bowl out of the cabinet, rub the inside of it with oil, and place your ball of dough inside. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set the timer for 2 hours. Yes, you and I need to be patient in order to savor freshly baked Challah bread. I covered the bowl, set it in a warm spot on my countertop, and started the timer. Eyes on the prize, friends. We can do this.
After 2 hours, the recipe says that our dough should be doubled in size, and thankfully, my dough was just that. Yeast is always tricky to work with, and I was so glad to see that the yeast did what it was supposed to do this time. Victory!
You and I can now take the dough out of the oiled bowl and divide it as evenly as possible into three separate portions. Roll each portion out like a rope on a floured surface.
Once you’ve got the three portions looking like ropes, you and I get to brush up on our braiding skills. Lay all three ropes side-by-side and grab them at the top and pinch them together. This will be the beginning of your braided Challah loaf.
Braid the three ropes together and then pinch the ends together to seal things off. Friends, if this step takes you an extra moment or two to remember exactly how to braid things, I am right there with you. I began to braid the ropes and then had to stop halfway through and undo what I had done because I was doubting as to whether or not I was properly braiding the ropes together. I wanted my Challah loaf to look like Au Bon Pain’s Challah loaves did in 1990. This thing had to look perfect, or pretty darn near close.
I stopped and thought for just a moment and began to braid again. And friends, the braid looked pretty great to me. So much so that I texted Jackie a picture. I wanted to celebrate with her the fact that this actually looked like what it was supposed to. If I’m honest, this is the step that concerned me the most (even more than proofing the yeast) when considering using this recipe for Saturday Snacks. Braiding the loaf was similar to the point at which you have to flip a turnover or seal a strudel; it could make or break the entire thing. To have gotten this far was a win in my book. The rest would be icing on the cake. Or, in this instance, butter on the bread.
A bit of patience is required for our next step as we need sprinkle the loaf with a bit of flour and cover it and let it rise on a parchment paper-covered baking pan for an additional hour. The loaf will puff up even more than it already has, and, after one hour, it’ll be almost ready for the oven.
After the loaf has risen for an hour, combine the egg white that we reserved earlier in the recipe with 1 tablespoon of water to create an egg wash. You and I need to take a kitchen pastry brush and cover that entire loaf (top, nooks, crannies, and sides) with the wash. Doing so will result in a crunchy, glossy exterior that you will absolutely adore. Trust me. Make sure that you get in all the little spots in between the braids when you’re covering things with the wash.
After your loaf is completely covered in egg wash, the time has come. It’s time to place your braided Challah loaf into a 350° oven. The recipe calls for us to leave it in there for 30 to 35 minutes, allowing to the loaf to get to a deep, golden color.
I wish you could have been with me in my kitchen when I pulled my Challah bread out of the oven. There was a happy dance. And a hoot and a holler. I could not believe that I’d actually made Challah bread. I just thought there was no way to reproduce what I had purchased so many times in the past, and yet here it was. And to be quite honest, it wasn’t hard. It was a few simple ingredients and it required a little bit of patience in letting the dough rise, but what it produced was the loveliest, creamiest Challah bread ever.
As soon as I bit into that first slice, it was like it was the early 90’s all over again and I was standing in the middle of the food court at The Mall in Columbia shoving bread into my mouth. It was magical.
I’m so glad that Disney released this recipe. This bread is everything that you want it to be: crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. It has that distinctive creamy, egg-y taste to it, and it’s simply wonderful.
Whether you’re baking your Challah bread for Shabbat or for a gathering of friends or for a rainy Thursday evening, I know that you will enjoy each and every bite.
And if you make Kronk’s Challah Bread, please let me know in the comments section below so that I can celebrate with you. I can’t wait to see what you think of this recipe and of the results.
Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope that it’s a great one. And I also hope that there’s a carb or two waiting for you to enjoy. Thank you so much for reading, friends!
Ready to join Kronk in the kitchen? His Challah bread recipe is below:
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk (reserve the egg white for the egg wash)
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- Place water in small bowl, and sprinkle in yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes until a frothy layer forms across the top.
- Combine flour, sugar and salt.
- In the center of the flour, add the eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Whisk together.
- Combine yeast mixture and egg mixture. Mix yeast, eggs, and flour until a dough that is tough to mix forms.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. The dough is ready when it is smooth and holds shape.
- Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours until it has doubled in bulk.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope.
- Gather dough ropes and squeeze them together at the top. Braid the ropes, and squeeze the other ends together when complete.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place braided long on the paper and sprinkle with flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until dough puffs up.
- Prepare a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350F. Whisk egg white and 1 tbsp of water to make the egg wash. Brush mixture all over the dough, in the cracks and down the side.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove when the challah is deeply browned and 190F in the middle.
- Let cool, slice and serve.