Thursday, May 31, 2012

Whole-Wheat Challah with Dried Cherries

Whole wheat challah with dried cherriesI bake a challah every week (at least, if I'm at home) for Shabbat with the folks next door--sister-in-law and the kids are Jewish. The recipe evolved for a while, but I think it's been stable for several years so it's time to blog it again. (The last blogged version was back on LJ, in Sept. 2008.) As that entry said, this began with a recipe found on the Internet but no longer resembles it much. I'm going to put my preferred measurements first though it's a hodge-podge--I weigh my flour and keep the scale set on grams most of the time for the precision (or appearance thereof), all else is given in American teaspoons/tablespoons/ounces. It works for me, is all I can say. If someone needs other ingredients provided in grams, ask in comments and I'll weigh 'em the next available Friday.

Notes: this makes a small challah, maybe about 12-14" long. I'll give the amounts to double it at the end, as I do the doubled version as one large challah when feeding more people. Or I make 2 smaller ones and leave the cherries out of one if worried about the universal acceptability of dried fruit.

The directions are for mixing and kneading the dough in a heavy-duty mixer, specifically a KitchenAid. I've done it in a food processor, and of course the manual method will work, too. You're on your own for directions, or follow my link above back to the source recipe.

Doubled recipe, braided and ready to riseI like this dough a little wet, as an aid to re-hydrating the cherries (and also because it rises better). Because I do all the kneading in a mixer, I don't have to deal with the wet dough coating my hands. Adjust the water and flour as needed so you have a workable dough with your methods.

The instructions say to turn the dough out onto a floured board: I use a silicon dough mat, and with the little bit of oil from my scraper or the rising bowl I don't need to add any flour to the surface as I knead and braid.

The lecithin is supposed to help it keep better, and I add it out of habit. Usually long-keeping is not a big concern with this bread around here...

Whole-Wheat Challah with Dried Cherries

150 grams (1-1/4 cups) whole-wheat flour
65 grams (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour (plus maybe a tablespoon or so extra if things are really sticky)
1-1/8 tsp. instant yeast (1/2 package)
1 tablespoon granular lecithin (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, divided
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
3 fluid ounces hot water (130 degrees)
1/3 cup dried cherries

Whisk together the flours, yeast, and lecithin. Whisk in salt.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Reserve 1 teaspoon or so for glazing the loaf. In a large mixer bowl stir together the remaining egg, oil, and honey, then add the water.

Add flour mixture to bowl. Using the dough hook, stir at lowest speed until flour is moistened. Increase to KitchenAid level 4 and knead for 6 minutes, adding the dried cherries about a minute before the end. Dough will not be cleaning the sides of the bowl, but should be looking "stretchy" to indicate that the gluten is developing. Add more flour if necessary. The cherries won't be fully incorporated.

Scrape the dough from the bowl and dough hook with a greased dough scraper or a spatula onto floured board and knead for 2 or 3 turns to get the cherries all covered with dough. Put into greased container, cover, and put in warm spot until doubled - about 1 hour. Alternatively, place in refrigerator overnight or for several hours until ready to let it rise.

round version for Rosh HashanahTurn doubled dough out onto floured board and knead for 2 or 3 turns to deflate it. Divide dough into 6 pieces (or as many as you want to braid) and braid. (Here are the braiding instructions I use.) Pinch ends together when done and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap or place in a proofing box.

Let formed loaf rise for about 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled. Begin pre-heating the oven to 350° at least 30 minutes before baking. Dilute the reserved egg with about a teaspoon of water, and brush the challah gently with the mixture, being careful to get into the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. An instant-read thermometer will register 180° when the loaf is done. Remove from baking sheet and put on a dish towel or a rack to cool.

Doubled recipe:
300 grams (2-1/2 cups) whole-wheat flour
130 grams (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 package)
2 tablespoons granular lecithin (optional)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs, divided
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
6 fluid ounces (3/4 cup) hot water (130 degrees)
2/3 cup dried cherries