Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I love baking Challah; certainly it is my favorite Jewish recipe to prepare. There's something both relaxing and spiritual about making Challah that always leave me in a good mood. This recipe, like any Challah recipe, does not require a breadmaker - I always use my KitchenAid Artisan mixer to prepare fresh, light homebaked Challah, and it works like a charm. Challah is one of my signature recipes - one of the feats in the kitchen that I am the most proud of. My favorite part of Challah making is checking the Challah after the dough rises. I love waiting for the dough to rise and braiding the bread. I love the polished, professional and glossy look it has when it comes out the the oven. And finally, I love the warm, fresh taste of a beautiful soft Challah straight out of the oven. Few things are more gratifying! My all-time favorite meal consists of Challah, homemade caesar salad, Asian Sake marinated chilean sea bass with papaya salsa and my husband's green apple risotto.
I have already made regular plain Challah and cinnamon raisin Challah for this blog. So I decided that the next direction to go with this egg-based bread would be to prepare a dessert Challah. I decided that chocolate and cinnamon would be a natural combination for the perfect dessert bread. There's certainly other possibilities - I have a pumpkin variation up my sleeve for a rainy day.
Sasha's Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Challah (makes one medium sized Challah)
2 1/4 cup King Arthur Bread Flour
2 small packets dry active yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
4 egg yolks plus 1 egg yolk for the glaze
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
This dessert recipe is very loosely adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for plain Challah from her Baking Handbook. Basically, I looked at that recipe, not for direction, but to make sure I got some of the basic proportions right.
To prepare this recipe, first activate the yeast by placing the dry active yeast in warm water and waiting about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate into a frothy, bubbly form. Then, combine the water, flour, salt, sugar, canola oil, four egg yolks, cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips in your breadmaker or artisan mixer and combine into a dough. You can add an additional couple of tablespoons of water if you need to (I did this time, no big deal).
Place the challah in a well oiled bowl covered with a damp cloth and allow it to rise in a warm place for an hour. My trick is allowing the oven to heat to about 150 degrees and then turn it off before placing the bowl inside the slightly warm oven. I found that this allows the dough to rise faster and more completely. Braid the Challah and put on a baking sheet sprayed with PAM. Cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour. At this point, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Before you bake the Challah, glaze with an egg yolk using a pastry brush. This will give the Challah a nice, shiny egg washed color when baked. Bake the bread for about 20-30 minutes and enjoy! Mine was sweet, soft and delicious.