I, like many people, love Pinterest. But let's face it: the likelihood that your creations will resemble those professional, photoshopped, finished DIY projects and recipes? Well, let's just say I've had my share of Pinterest fails.
If there's one thing I can make, however, it's bread. So when I saw a pin of rainbow challah, it seemed like a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon. The thing that sets this recipe apart from other challah recipes is a tiny technique involving six bowls and six shades of food coloring. (For those who don't recall the color wheel from elementary school art classes, you really only need red, yellow and blue. Red+Blue=Purple, Red+Yellow=Orange, Blue+Yellow=Green. You get the point.)
Here's a disclaimer: before you attempt this recipe, you need to be sure you can bake a basic loaf of challah. I struggled for five years before finding the perfect, no fail recipe on the Cuban Reuben website. Here's what you'll need:
- A hell of a lot of patience.
- 2¼ tsp dry active yeast
- 1½ tsp plus ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ cup warm water
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, divided
- 1 egg yolk
- 1½ tsp table salt
- 4 cups flour (or less)
- Parchment paper and a baking tray or cookie sheet
- Red, blue and yellow food coloring
- Combine yeast, 1½ tsp sugar, and ¾ cup of warm water, and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes. Make sure the water is warm and not hot as hot water kills the yeast; it should be the temperature of a warm bath.
- Stir in the vegetable oil, 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, with remaining sugar and salt.
- Slowly stir in the flour until you have enough that the mixture holds together.
- Turn onto a lightly floured countertop and knead until smooth, combining more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the countertop.
- Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour.
- Punch dough down, recover it with plastic wrap, and leave it to rise again for 2 hours.
- Cut the dough into 6 pieces, and place each piece into a separate bowl. This is the fun part, but requires some elbow grease! Add a different shade of food coloring to each bowl and stir it into the dough until the color is uniform.
- Now, you should have 6 balls of differently colored dough. Roll each ball of dough (one at a time) into approximately 12 inch strands.
- Pinch the top of the strands together. Take the strand furthest to the right, and move it all the way over to the left. Take the strand that is second to the left, and move it all the way over to the right. Take the strand that is all the way over to the left, and move it to the right by 2 strands. Take the strand that is second from the right, and move it all the way to the left. Repeat this process until the challah is completely braided. Pinch ends, and tuck them under the loaf. Place braided loaf on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Use one egg to brush an egg wash over the top of the loaf.
- Let sit for one hour.
- Use another egg to brush a second coat of egg wash. (At this point, you can sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or any other seeded topping you want).
- Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.