This Friday night, I set to myself the goal of breaking the routine and trying something new with my traditional Shabbath bread. The weekly hand-kneading is a moment of happiness for me, as it helps to release the pressure of the week by focusing on something physical yet spiritual too. From what I know, it is not forbidden to make a Challah with a twist. My twist of the day is to turn it into a more savory brioche bread that it usually is (it generally does have a flavor quite undefined between savory and sweet), by adding some fresh chopped parsley leaves with olive oil, instead of making it plain and with butter instead.
You can find the recipe of the classic and regular Shabbath Challah (brioche) in my Cookbook #1: A French Girl’s Cooking Adventures in Her Kitchen.
You can actually braid the challah with as many strands as you want, only the braiding technique will be different as well as the final aspect of your bread. Slide your mouse over the pictures to check out the number of strands for each braided bread you see.
A few details are rather important when making a challah dough. Rising times must be respected, as well as ingredients quantities. Also, please note that using any other type of flour (wholewheat, cereals, etc.) if not regular plain flour type 55, will quite surely make this recipe fail, as proportions are strictly calculated based on the type 55 plain all-purpose flour. The yeast must develop into a good foam, which can be achieved thanks to lukewarm water. The yeast cannot be let to develop inside a warm nor hot liquid, otherwise the bread will fail to actually rise properly. Weird, I know, but that’s how it is, believe me, I’ve tried, I’ve failed, and I’ve learned! And last but not least, the dough must rise in a lukewarm environment that can’t suffer any air drift – I usually put it to rise either inside the oven, or on top of one of my radiators.
- For the leaven, 100 ml of water, 1 bag (5 to 8 gr. of dry yeast), 1 tsp of sugar.
- 200 grams of all-purpose flour, type 55 or similar.
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 egg for the dough, 1 more egg combined to 1 tbsp of milk for the eggwash in the end
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 3 large tbsp of lukewarm milk
- a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- In a small bowl, pour about 100 ml of water and heat 10 seconds in the micro-wave oven. Check that it’s just lukewarm. Add the sugar and dry yeast, and cover up the bowl with a kitchen towel to let the yeast foam up.
- In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine in this order the salt, sugar, egg, flour and the oil. Start combining with a wooden spoon.
- When the yeast foamed to the point it completely covers the surface of the small bowl, pour it onto the flour mixture with its water, keep stirring to combine then add the lukewarm milk. When it shapes up, add the parsley.
- You might need to add up about 30 to 40 grams of flour to make the dough non-sticky and soft at the same time.
- Cover the large bowl with plastic film, and let it rise in a lukewarm place as explained above the picture, for an hour minimum (the dough must at least double its size).
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
- When the dough has risen, knead it with bare hands and prepare your strands to braid your bread. Divide the dough equally into as many balls as you need for your strands, and one by one, turn a ball into a strand by rolling it out on your kitchen counter. If the dough’s ingredients proportions are correct, you will not need to flour the surface beforehand. Set the strands one after another over a baking sheet on the oven tray.
- Braid your challah bread, then cover it over with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another 20 to 30 minutes.
- When time’s up, brush it with the eggwash and immediately put it to bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven. The crust must be golden brown.
- Let the savory challah bread cool down for at least a half hour before you begin to eat it and roll your eyes with pleasure!
Although this type of bread consistency almost looks and tastes like a brioche, the challah that is presented here with a savory twist goes really well with savory dishes, appetizers or entrees, such as a fresh salad, tchoutchouka (simmered tomato and bell peppers cold salad from the picture above), cheese spread, coleslaw (check out by clicking here how to make a delicious coleslaw with my oil-free mayonnaise!), a delicious homemade garlicky hummus, and so on. Even my vegetarian friends and readers can enjoy it! When the challah is just made the regular way, you can enjoy it with savory dishes and sweet treats too (chocolate paste, jam), but mostly you won’t resist simply munching on it, just plain and with bare fingers!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.