January 5, 2012

Caramel Challah Recipe

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Caramel Challah

I’ve been making Challah for years. I learned how to make it when I was a kid. I didn’t make it all that much until a few years ago when I decided BabyGirl should learn how to make it and enjoy creating part of Shabbat. And while it takes awhile to make, it’s actually very easy and doesn’t require many ingredients.

One day I wanted to make a sweet challah and was out of raisins so I threw in some chocolate chips. Oh my! Not only great for Shabbat but even better for french toast the next morning. But BabyGirl and CycleGuy aren’t much for the chocolate, they’re caramel people. So when I found these caramel bites at the King Arthur Flour site I added a bag (or 2) to my cart and started wondering what I would make. And then it hit me, Caramel Challah!

So without further adieu, I bring you:

Caramel Challah Recipe

Makes 2 loaves
Time: aprox. 1 hour plus about 2 1/2 hours for rising

Challah Ingredients
1 and 1/2 packages (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil, and more for greasing bowl
5 Large Eggs at room temperature
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Caramel Bits (if you’re making regular challah, just leave these out)

1.  In a small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup (or in bowl of stand mixer), dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon Sugar in 1 and 3/4 cups of lukewarm water (about 110°F). You should be able to hold your fingers in the water for 30+ seconds.

2.  Pour yeast mixture into mixing bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup vegetable oil into yeast. (I don’t like using olive oil because I think it’s too strong of a taste for this sweetened version). Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and tablespoon of salt.

3.  Gradually add 8 Cups of flour. When dough holds together and pulls away from sides, it is ready for kneading. If kneading by hand, turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. If it feels sticky add a little more flour. If kneading in a stand mixer, switch to a dough hook and knead about 8 minutes watching so the dough doesn’t climb up the hook, adding flour if it’s still too sticky. This is a large quantity of dough and not all mixers can handle this step so keep an eye on your mixer.

4. Place dough in large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough can also rise in an oven which has been warmed to 150°F then turned off.

5. After first rise, punch down dough and add the Caramel Bits. Fold over the dough to cover the Caramel Bits. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place for 45-minutes.

6. Cut the dough in half and put one half back in the bowl and cover it while you make the first challah. To make a 6-strand challah cut the dough into 6 equal(ish) pieces and roll them into strands about 12-inches long. If you’re making a 3-strand challah, cut the dough into 3 equal(ish) pieces and roll them into strands about 12-inches long. Because they have the caramel bits in them, you have to be careful that the strands don’t break. If they do, just pinch them back together.

7. If making a 3-strand challah, place all 3 strands next to each other and pinch together at the top to connect them. Proceed to braid the strands just like you’d braid hair. If you want to braid a 6-strand challah, rather than me try to explain it, just watch this video (probably a few times).

8. These are straight loaves. Round loaves are used for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

9. Make the second challah the same way. You can make mini challah too by parsing the dough out into smaller portions. If you’re making the challah with a child it may be good to give them their own strands to make their own.

10. Place braided dough on a parchment covered cookie sheet. If you don’t have parchment, make sure you grease the cookie sheet. Depending on the size of your dough braids you might be able to fit both on the same sheet pan. Otherwise, use 2 pans.

11. Beat remaining egg with about a teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the loaves with the egg wash (do not discard because you’ll need it again), cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise approximately 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°F.

12. After rising, remove plastic wrap and brush again with egg wash. If some of the caramel bites have peeked out gently push them in and cover with dough so they don’t burn. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. If it starts to brown too rapidly, tent it with a little foil. If using a thermometer, the internal temperature will be about 190°F when done.

13. Remove from oven and cool loaves on rack.

We don’t eat ours right out of the oven because we wait for Shabbat. But they are delicious when they’re warm.

I know it takes quite a bit of time from start to finish, but it’s so worth it! To store, wrap tightly in foil and place in refrigerator. Use a serrated knife to cut so you don’t squish it or tear it. If you don’t want to use a knife, just pull off a hunk and enjoy!

Images: Saving For Someday
Disclosure: I bought all ingredients myself and am not posting this on behalf of anyone. King Arthur Flour only knows who I am because they ship me stuff that I buy. This is NOT sponsored by anyone other than CycleGuy who ensures a plentiful supply of Caramel Bits.
Recipe Resources: Joan Nathan, Treasure For My Daughter, Handwritten Notes  

Sara

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