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Sweet Challah, but without raisins, please

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Do you have a favorite tried-and-true sweet challah bread recipe for Rosh Hashana?

One of my guests will not eat cooked raisins.

I think my people might enjoy an apple challah although I'm open to testing other flavors as well.

Thank you.
Vera
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Vera
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post #2 of 15
Vera,
Here's my family's recipe. The sweeter version for rolls can be made into a Rosh Hashanah challah. My grandmother made a coiled, round loaf, pulling the tail end onto the top of the loaf. Then, she'd flatten the tail and cut it into five fingers. We kids called it "God's hand" because it looked like it was blessing the bread.

1 teaspoon sugar

1 packet instant dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3.5 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 tablespoons corn oil


1
Proof the yeast: Into a small cup place 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 packet instant dry yeast, 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees). Allow to sit until bubbly.
2
For the dough: In a large heavy bowl combine 3.5 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar. In a 2-cup measure, beat 2 eggs, then add enough warm water to equal 1 cup liquid. Add the corn oil to the water. Add the yeast mixture and add the liquid to the flour in the large bowl. Use a fork to blend until you need to use your hands.
3
Start kneading and rounding the dough with your hands. (On humid days you may need more flour.) When the ball and sides of the bowl are clean, turn out onto a well-floured board and knead at least 10 minutes.
4
When the dough is no longer sticky, oil the bowl, put the dough in it, and turn to oil the dough on all sides. Let the dough rise in a warm place (away from drafts), covered with a towel. Let rise until double and a finger indentation remains. "Punch" down the dough, turn it out onto a floured board and knead slightly.
5
Shaping a challah: Cut the dough in two, then cut each piece into three equal pieces; braid, tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Let rise double.
6
To bake: Paint the dough with egg wash (one yolk + 1 teaspoon water). Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Place on oiled baking sheet. Bake in a 350° or 375° oven until brown. Cool on a rack. (**You can shape conventional loaves and bake in an oiled bread pan.)
7
FOR MAKING SWEET DOUGH FOR CINNAMON ROLLS: Add another 1/4 cup sugar to the dough and use 1/3 cp melted butter instead of oil. Add a third egg if you wish. Roll the dough into a rectangle 1/4" thick. Brush dough with butter. Sprinkle with a mixture of white and brown sugar plus cinnamon (add raisins if desired). Roll, then cut into 2" slices. Place in buttered baking pan; crowding is fine. Brush with more butter and sprinkle with more sugar mixture if you aren't going to frost them. Let rise until doubled, then bake as above.
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post #3 of 15

No Raisins Already

SWEET CHALLAH
(Makes 2 round loaves)

Traditionally a milchig challah is different from a fleishig challah. If you keep kosher, you already know the appropriate substitutions. If not, go with the full on milk and butter version; you'll love this soft, sweet bread that already has so much butter in it. It's practically cake.

If, instead of forming challahs, you make sandwich loaves, the bread makes best-ever pain perdu (aka French toast), and bread pudding.


Ingredients:
Dough
7 cups, unbleached AP flour
2 tbs instant yeast
1 tbs sea salt or kosher salt, or 2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks melted butter (or 1 cup neutral oil, such as corn or safflower, or 3/4 cup neutral oil and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil)
3 eggs
1 cup warm water, divided in halves
1 cup milk (or an additional 1 cup water)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup bench flour
1 to 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Egg Wash and Topping
1 egg
1 tbs water
2 - 3 tbs poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

Technique:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread’s dry ingredients (except for the bench flour) together with a fork.

Melt the butter over a low flame, or in the microwave. Whisk the 3 eggs, the milk, and 1/2 cup of warm water together until the eggs are blended. Add the honey, and melted butter, and whisk until just combined.

Combine the liquid and dry ingredients. Mix by hand or in a large, strong stand mixer, until the dough cleans the bowl. If dough requires more water used the reserved warm water a couple of tablespoons at a time.

If kneading by machine, change the paddle for the dough hook and knead for approximately 10 minutes, adding bench flour only as needed to keep dough from sticking to bowl. Dough should be shiny and elastic.

If kneading by hand, remove the dough from the bowl and knead for at least ten minutes. Add bench flour only as as needed to keep dough from sticking to the board. Knead dough until shiny and elastic – well into the “window pane stage.” The changes are quite pronounced shortly after it enters the window pane stage – about another two minutes of kneading. Pull the dough into a ball. Note: The combination of honey and so much butter give this dough a unique feel – slick and sticky at the same time. Sounds paradoxical, no? You’ll just have to try it.

Wash your mixing bowl with hot water, then dry it immediately and thoroughly. While the bowl is still warm, add a generous tbs of extra virgin olive oil to it. Put the ball of dough in the oil and shmush it around so all surfaces of the dough are well covered. Then use the oily ball of dough to oil the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in volume.

When the dough has risen, punch down, cover, and allow to double again. You don’t have to be particularly rough or gentle. It won’t matter one way or the other, because the loaf forming process is brutal.

Remove the dough from the bowl, and use your board knife to cut it in half. It’s traditional to make a blessing when dividing the dough this way. Return one half to the bowl to form the second loaf.

Divide the remaining dough into four or five (I prefer five, but if you’ve never done this before start with four) even pieces, and form each of them into a snakes about 8" long. Lay them next to one another in parallel lines and begin to braid. Tip: Here’s an old Jewish trick, from a tricky, old Jew. Start braiding in the center. As you braid you’ll stretch the snakes – because you’re working towards the ends, both will be symmetrical. Don’t worry about making the very ends perfect. When you’ve braided nearly all the way to one end, turn your board (or your half formed loaf) and braid nearly all the way to the other end.

Remove the dough as gently as possible to a floured baking pan. Coil the braided dough into a circle, and lay one unfinished, skinny end on top of the other. Flatten the overlapping ends with your hand, and cut the four, evenly spaced, parallel gashes so the look like the spaces between the fingers of a hand. Trim the “thumb” and “pinky” to make it look even more like a hand. Cover with cling wrap and allow to rise until doubled.

Repeat the entire process with the second half of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Note: Why so low? 350F is appropriate both for a soft crust and an egg wash.

When the dough has risen, check the “hands” and make fresh slashes if necessary. Beat the egg with the tbs of water. Use a soft brush to gently and generously paint the loaves with the egg wash, then sprinkle the tops generously with poppy or sesame seeds if desired.

Bake the loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour; use the “thump” test to check for doneness. Get the loaves off their baking sheets and onto a rack to cool as soon as possible.

L'Shana tovah,
BDL
post #4 of 15
Remembering another current thread . . .

Diced dried figs in place of raisins? I haven't tried it, but hey, how could you go wrong?
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much! I look forward to testing these.

I wonder, would anyone faint if I added chopped, dried apricots?
Vera
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Vera
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post #6 of 15
Raisins work because they rehydrate in the dough and come out reasonably soft.

Apricots are a great idea. I'm guessing canned or fresh over dried; and if using dried to reconstitute at least partially. Dried apricots don't rehydrate as well as raisins.

Candied fruit peel might work -- especially citron and cherry. Chopped dates, maybe -- it's got a little bit of a sephardic thing going for it. With respect to Yeti, who I think, doesn't get the whole challah thing, figs would be a disaster -- too tough and the flavor profile wouldn't be right. Very interesting thought, though.

Yeti -- do you like to bake bread?

BDL
post #7 of 15
Not for nothing but, isn't the phrase "sweet challah" redundent?

Challah is an enriched dough made with eggs, sometimes milk, and always sugar or honey. So it's sweet by definition.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 15
Some are sweeter than others. Look at the recipe I put up compared to the recipe Mezzaluna put up. Mine's got about twice the sweetener (1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey) per loaf compared to Mezz's.

Sweet(er) challahs are traditional for the High Holidays.

BDL
post #9 of 15
Traditionally a milchig challah is different from a fleishig challah. If you keep kosher, you already know the appropriate substitutions. If not, go with the full on milk and butter version; you'll love this soft, sweet bread that already has so much butter in it. It's practically cake.

MAKE EXTRA AND SAVE IT TO MAKE THE BEST FRENCH TOAST
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #10 of 15
Good one, Ed! :lol:

But my grandmother did, hence, the oil. She used only Mazola corn oil (except at Passover).

Shana Tova, by the way!
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post #11 of 15
I've made excellent bread pudding from leftover challah. :lips:
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post #12 of 15
I defer to BDL, of course. I have only made a few dozen loaves from scratch, and never challah. My bread has come out so-so at best. I didn't think of the rehydration part. I was thinking about a comparison between plain dried figs and plain raisins.
post #13 of 15
If you like to bake, but don't do it too often ... and you have the time, I'd like to run a few recipes by your inexperienced bad self and see if you can get good results. Interested?

BDL

PS. This one would be okay -- as long as you promised to make them in loaf pans and not braid. That's asking a bit much for a first time in a long time. BDL
post #14 of 15
Yeah, lay it on me for sure, BDL. I'd love to make something better than what I've made so far.:lol:

I've made a lot of pasta from scratch, but not much bread. My pasta is dayum good, but my bread, not so much.
post #15 of 15
Having made a bazillion challah breads myself I would suggest using dried apples in yours it will come out much better, the apples will rehydrate just like raisins as a poster has already mentioned.
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