While on my work trip to Malta recently, I met this interestingly geeky engineer from Israel. I couldn’t claim to know that many Israelis, but, this guy appeared to have made an impression. The kind of encounter that leaves a sweet little feeling at the back of your mind, but, one that should be left at that.
Anyways, cute engineers or not, I have always been somewhat fascinated with the Jewish tradition. They seemed such a mysterious and exclusive society. Coupled with my search for my next bread recipe, I was reading up on challah. I have been wanting to bake challah for a while, but has somehow always given it up for the richer and more sinful brioche.
This time I was determined to stick to challah, but was wondering how to flavour it. Apparently challah is pareve, meaning it should not contain meat or dairy. So cheese is out of the question. Since I have done a big batch of roasted garlic recently, I decided to use that. I also came across this interesting no-knead challah recipe on Instagram and decided to give it a try.
Makes one large loaf
500g bread flour
1.5 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (keep the egg white to use as glaze)
75g olive oil
Roasted garlic and spring onions to flavour
1) In a large bowl, put the flour, yeast and salt, and whisk lightly to combine.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, water, olive oil and honey and well mixed.
3) Pour the wet ingredients into the try ingredients and stir using a wooden spoon until the ingredients form a wet and shaggy dough. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
4) Remove the cover, and using a bowl scraper, scrap one part of the dough and fold it over. Do this around the whole dough in the bowl. This is one turn. Continue until you have done 8 turns. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
5) Continue with the 8 folds and resting 4 more times. By the last time, you should feel a difference in the texture of the dough from the beginning. Cover and allow to prove in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours.
6) To shape the dough, rub some olive oil on your work top and hands as this is a very sticky dough.
7) I decided to go with the traditional 6 strand braid. So the dough was divided into 6 equal parts.
8) Roll each part of dough into a long strand, then, flatten the strand. Spread roast garlic in the middle of each strand, then, sprinkle some chopped spring onions. Pinch the edges of the strand, burying the garlic and spring onions inside. Do this for 2 or 3 more strands. There is no need to do this for every strand, unless you want a very garlicky loaf.
9) Cover the loaf loosely with a piece of wet cloth and allow to prove for about an hour.
10) 15 minutes before ready to bake, preheat convection oven to 190C.
11) Glaze the top of the loaf with egg white, then, sprinkle more spring onions.
12) Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Check the loaf after 15 minutes and if it browned too much, cover lightly with aluminium foil and continue to bake.
The original recipe makes 2 plain loaves. But, 3 strand braids just seemed so boring. The texture of the bread is a little dense and slightly cakey. It was a bit difficult to work with, as the dough is really, really wet and sticky. But I do like how it turned out. Probably the next time I will cut back on some of the water, and knead it traditionally – using my KitchenAid!