I have obviously been on a carb binge… and you don’t even know about the scratch made pasta that I’ve fallen in love with, I’ll add that next time… Challah … Brioche… I wasn’t really sure which way to go with this they both sound so good… and I have very fond memories of my mother making sweet bread with bits of dried apricots and almonds. I have to admit that her sweet bread never lasted very long. It sat on the counter, even a waste of time to wrap it, I would cut off a slice, butter it and enjoy… two minutes later repeat… two minutes later… repeat…. you get the message.
That’s why I avoid making those kinds of things but recently we got into a discussion and tried to figure out what the difference was between Brioche and Challah. Brioche has lots of butter and Challah doesn’t contain milk is the short answer… and both of them, very tasty!
So this is my spin on a Challah, or sweetbread, just because I can’t leave a recipe alone, chocolate challah with nuts and cranberries, an experiment that will likely be repeated at Christmas because it just feels like good Christmas bread.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 overflowing tsp white sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- Yeast mixture
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 egg (+1 egg white for brushing on dough)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup slivered almonds
Put together the yeast mixture to give it a few minutes to rise. For the water, make sure you have a nice warm temperature; I put my finger in it (clean of course) and make sure it’s almost hot. I find if it’s too cold the yeast won’t rise. Pour the warm water in to a measuring cup, sprinkled with the sugar and yeast and stir. Leave the yeast alone and after 5 minutes, there should be layer of foam on top of the water.
In your mixer add the yeast mixture, bread flour, sugar, oil, 1 egg and salt. I usually put the dry ingredients in first and then the wet, that way the wet gets slowly mixed in with the dry, but it really doesn’t matter much that much except slowly pour in the warm water after you get the mixer going After a minute scrape down the sides of the bowl then let the dough hook do it’s job kneading for about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a large bowl that has a tablespoon or so of oil in it, (I often will just roll the dough around the bowl, to spread the oil in the bowl and to grease the dough so it doesn’t dry out. Cover the dough with a towel and place in a warm spot in the kitchen for an hour and a half to rise. Note that your dough may not double in size and if it doesn’t rise as much as you’re used to, don’t worry about it too much. It might be because of the cocoa powder.
After an hour and a half, punch down the dough and let it rise again for about an hour.
After it has risen another hour knead into it the chocolate chips, slivered almonds and dried cranberries. Knead just enough to incorporate the berries, nuts and chips and then roll out however you would like to. I found a fabulous (color coded) video on how to braid traditional challah and it is here… it’s great and makes it really easy if you don’t know how to do it.
Brush the shaped challah with the egg white let rise another half hour or so before baking at 350 for about 25 minutes.
Enjoy, this really is the best of a sweet bread… okay so it’s not traditional challah but it tastes like an amazing version of a sweetbread, made even better with chocolate, cause who doesn’t love chocolate!