Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Honey Braided Challah

This is a great holiday bread and doubles as a nice breakfast loaf. It's sweet without being demanding and is perfect with cream cheese or honey butter. Many traditions include seeds or certain herbs sprinkled over the top; sesame seeds work well for this particular loaf.

Honey Cinnamon Challah:

7c bread flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2c agave nectar (low glycemic sweetener, check health food stores or well stocked grocers)
2 packets of yeast dissolved in 1/3c warm water
1/2c veg oil
2 tbsp apple pie spice
4 eggs
1c boiling water
1/2c cold water
1 egg + 2 tbsp honey + 1 tbsp water (set aside)

Beat eggs in a bowl. In separate large bowl mix oil, nectar, spices, salt and add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved. Add cold water, stir, and add yeast water -- keep in mind that the mixture should be warm, not hot, before the addition of yeast. Add eggs to the large bowl. Combine flour 1/2-1c at a time, as certain climates require more or less of it. If you're kneading by hand, knead for about 15 minutes or until smooth and elastic; if you're using a bread hook it takes around five to ten minutes. Place loaf into a greased bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Before punching the dough down, remove from the bowl and slice into thirds with a sharp knife. Knead each round for 2-5 minutes and use the sharp knife to divide each into thirds again. Roll each section into a "snake" about 1-2 inches in diameter. Pinch the top ends together and braid down the loaf, then pinch the bottom ends and tuck under. Repeat this with the 2 remaining rounds and let each rise on a greased baking sheet for 30-45 minutes. Right before the loaves are ready to go in the oven, take a pastry brush and coat each with the egg and honey mixture. Make sure to cover all exposed areas of the loaf except for the bottom. Sprinkle seeds if desired.

Preheat the oven to 450 with your baking stone, and reduce to 350 for the actual baking time. If you're operating with a baking sheet only, flour with cornmeal or semolina and allow it to preheat. Place the loaf on a greased large plate or a floured peel and slide it onto the baking stone or sheet. Allow to bake for 20-30 minutes or until loaf is a deep golden brown.

1 comment:

Anna said...

I'm making challah right now. I love your blog!
-Anna aka Norcal