Half gone before I get any good photos.
For some reason, I’ve been day dreaming of challah for two days: thinking if pillowy, shiny brown mounds of the plaited loaf, full of some sweet filling and swirling with flavor. I realized Rosh Hashanah was approaching, calling to me, and although I’m not Jewish, I can appreciate holidays that require round, sweet breads to celebrate.
The most beautiful dough
I’ve been toying with living gluten-free, which my intestines and energy levels increasingly appreciate, but which is quite hard when you harbor the talent to create glutenous delights on a whim. I can avoid gluten just fine but when it comes to challah, I cave. It is my favorite bread, or maybe, an enriched dough is my favorite dough with which to create. An enriched dough has eggs and/or oil to create a dense, moist loaf of bread. It requires more proving time, but it makes up for this in its ease of handling and not needing flour to work it. It’s also superior in its taste and depth, which I can appreciate in bread.
I know I have a lot of bread and bread like recipes on this page, but it’s maybe because it’s the one thing I actually use a recipe for. (This blog is mostly just for my own records as I’ve had a lot of recipe books and blogs get lost in the midst of life over the last few years). The science and ratios are generally necessary to follow so I pay heed to that.
Although this recipe would be delicious plain, I chose to fill it with homemade cranberry, apple spread for both color and flavor. You’ll have to forgive me for not taking any photos while Rev and I weaved the dough. I was just so taken with the beautiful consistency of dough and Rev and I were having fun doing it. I forgot the camera entirely.
You’ll also note that my photos aren’t that great due to hungry mouths begging to eat it and then eating nearly the entire loaf before the morning daylight returned for good photo lighting.
One more very important thing: many people are quite scared of making bread and braided/woven loaves. I cannot tell you how easy this bread is to make. It takes time but if you’re around all day and have patience it’s really not that much work. The dough is easy to work with and doesn’t make a mess. Please experiment with your favorite fillings and let me know what works!
4 cups flour (I used white, non-enriched, but bread flour or enriched flour will work too)
2/3 cup warm water or milk (think cool bath water, not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast)
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons honey plus 1 tsp for the yeast
1/3 cup olive oil or melted butter (although olive oil gives a nice flavor and good texture)
1 apple, cubed
1/2 cup cranberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice