Sunday, September 8, 2013

Honey Challah - Secret Recipe Club

It was such a treat to be assigned to Food Babbles this month for the Secret Recipe Club.  I think the first time I learned about her blog was several months ago when I saw this gorgeous Cinnamon Pear Twist Bread that she had made and just knew that I had to make it too.  I did HERE, and it was one of the best breads I've ever eaten.  So, although she has many incredible recipes on her site, I was drawn back to her breads.  It was just a question of which bread I wanted to make.  She had ones filled with lemon curd, cherries and cream cheese, and other delicious things, but since I wanted a challenge, I decided to make her Honey Challah.  While I have made challah in the past, I never attempted to make the braid.  It always intrigued me, and looked so pretty, so I figured now was the time to learn.


To my surprise, it couldn't have been easier and the bread was braided up and ready to go in no time.  The only changes I made were to add some chopped dried apricots to the dough and sprinkle it with cinnamon-sugar before baking.


The time finally came to take it out of the oven and it was a thing of beauty.  The bread inside was pillowy-soft and fluffy and the cinnamon-sugar and apricots added the perfect touch of sweetness to each bite.  Now I can finally say that I've conquered the braided challah and I am thrilled.  I'm so jazzed up that I can't wait to try making it again, this time with 6 strands.

Thanks Food Babbles for your lovely bread recipe.

Honey Challah (adapted from Food Babbles and Tammy's Recipes)        
3/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tablespoon oil
2 large eggs
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3 1/2 - 4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots

1 large egg (for egg wash)
cinnamon-sugar (for sprinkling on top)

1.  Combine the yeast with the warm water and a pinch of sugar.  Let sit until foamy, about 5 min.

2.  Add the yeast mixture to the honey, oil, and sugar, and mix well.  Beat in the eggs and salt.  Add the flour gradually until the dough no longer sticks to the bottom of the bowl.  Knead in the chopped apricots, adding more flour as needed, and keep kneading for approximately 10 minutes.  

3.  Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down.  (I let my dough rise in the fridge overnight). 

4.  Divide the dough into four pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope, about 14-15" long, and 1 inch in diameter.  Lay the ropes side-by-side and pinch the tops together.  Braid tightly, starting on the left, taking the rope over two and under one.  Pinch bottom ends and fold under.   

5. Place braid on a greased baking sheet and cover.  Let rise in a warm place for 25-30 minutes.

6. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.  Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes, until done.  If loaves start to brown too quickly, loosely lay a piece of foil on top. Cool on a wire rack.