So, one Friday night a couple weeks ago, I came home with the intense desire to whip up some challah.
This was a particularly unusual desire, as a) I had never made or even eaten challah before, and b) I have a propensity toward screwing up homemade bread, unless it is baked from my
bible Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book.
I’d been eyeing up the Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah in my Smitten Kitchen cookbook, the other book on my kitchen counter that is ripped at the corners of the paper cover, dusted with a thin coating of all-purpose flour, and marked every page or three with a chocolatey/saucy/doughy fingerprint.
I had no figs, but I did have chocolate chips, and I ventured that I could make anything taste good with a healthy sprinkle of them, so I pulled my bag of flour from the pantry and my KitchenAid stand mixer to the centre of the granite countertop and got to work.
This bread was the sort of thing that made me regret the thirty-one years of my life I’ve miserably suffered without its flaky crumb, centre moistened by melted chocolate and caramel-coloured, sea salt-speckled crust that melts on your tongue in a flavour burst so utterly welcome when contrasted with the richness of the dough. It made me feel deeply sorry for all my grain-free, paleo comrades, and delighted, as butter slipped into the long, narrow air pockets of my carefully braided bread, that I have not followed in their footsteps.
We sliced and buttered and then tore chunks off of this bread as Friday night darkened around us and we went about the routine of dinner, stories, bath time and bedtime. By Saturday morning, though it’s slightly drier, tougher texture would have made dreamy French toast, there were but a few chocolate streaked pieces left on the butcher block, to be eaten hastily with a slurp of morning coffee.
- 2 1/4 teaspoons traditional yeast
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ~1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 large egg
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- Whisk the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the honey and warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer and let the yeast sit, or proof, for about 5 minutes, or until it's foamy.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and, using the dough hook attachment, mix until well combined into a sticky dough - about 8 minutes.
- (you can also do this by hand with a bowl, a spoon, and 5-10 minutes of kneading on a floured countertop)
- Coat a bowl with olive oil to prevent sticking, and transfer the dough to the bowl, covering with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured countertop and cut it in half. Roll the first half out into a rectangle and sprinkle the chocolate chips over it. Roll the dough into a tight rope. Very carefully stretch the rope of dough as far as you think you can from each end, and cut this longer rope in half. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- For an excellent visual depiction of how to assemble the challah into a braided beauty, visit the recipe link to Smitten Kitchen on this recipe card. She does it much better than I.
- Once you've formed your challah, place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Beat the egg and brush half of it over the dough. Let the challah rise another hour.
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Before baking the challah, brush the remaining egg over the dough and sprinkle the top with sea salt.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until deeply brown. If your challah is getting too dark, cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the remainder of the bake. The challah is done when a thermometer inserted into the centre of the dough reads 195F.
13 comments on “Salted Chocolate Challah”
So timely! I love this … definitely trying this recipe out this weekend for Hanukkah!
Sweet! Let me know how it goes! I was delighted at how easy this actually was, and how impressive it was when it was finished!!
Jesse! This looks beautiful!!! Honestly…it looks absolutely scrumptious. Good work you! xo
Thanks Nic! It was really – really – delicious. And pretty easy to make too! I was surprised at how well it turned out – I’m not always good at these things the first time around, and I’ve been having some terrible kitchen failures lately (as evidenced by the entire batch of pistachio nougat – along with a few shedded tears – in my garbage can right now…..
I never comment on these things because to be honest I want to zip right past all the extraneous written story-time stuff and get right to the recipe, but you write pure poetry, and I had to tell you that. Also, I need to make this, although I have never had a craving for challah and have never even made homemade bread (cornbread doesn’t count).
Wow, what a lovely comment Anne, thank-you! That means so much…I just returned from a long walk with my dog where thoughts of “does anybody actually read what I write?” and “am I total crap?” were circulating through my head, and your comment is what I returned to. Thanks. ;o)
The challah is pretty darn easy to make, I have to say. I had actually never had challah before I’d made this – so don’t ask me where that craving came from – but now I’ve just fueled the fire. I hope you have great success with this recipe, and come to love it just as much as I do!
oh gosh, this is just so SO SO PRETTY!
and yes, i have had the desire to just bake up some challah before. recently when that desire kicked in i made pumpkin challah destined for french toast and then turned into challah chips to be dipped into hummus.
i typically just braid the thing, the one time i deviated it from it it turned out horribly. you shaped it so wonderfully!
Thanks Lan! I’m so glad that you’re able to relate to my challah-making cravings. Pumpkin challah sounds amazing, and chips! Incredible! Do you have a recipe for that or did you just slice it really thinly, throw it in the oven and cross your fingers?
Check out the little challah-shaping tutorial that I linked to in my post – Smitten Kitchen has a great step by step guide, and it was pretty easy. This was one of those dishes where my luck surpassed my talent and produced beautiful results. I was literally dancing around the living room so excited about how it had turned out….and then I tasted it (and danced some more).
i’m seriously debating on if i should blog the challah chips. i guess it depends if there’s any left tomorrow when i work from home & will be able to snap a few shots during prime light time.
but yes, i sliced it thin by hand (using the hand mandolin completely wrecked it), a bit of olive oil, one layer on cookie sheet, in oven at 250F for about an hour. half way through i did flip the chips.
Sounds amazing. Did you make it home for pictures? Do you usually plan in advance to make something for a blog post, or just manage it whenever you can? I try to flag a couple of meals or recipes a week that I’m going to try to blog about, and then either pop home at lunch time (I live ridiculously close to where I work) or quickly after work to shoot them in my little basement “studio” ;o)
I made this bread on Monday and it turned out perfectly! It barely lasted a day, my family loved it so much. And it was my first real success baking any bread in the kitchen. Thank you for sharing the recipe 🙂
I’m so glad to hear that! I agree, the recipe is really solid. All of the recipes I’ve found in the Smitten Kitchen book and on her blog are the same way – they come out perfectly!
When you say ‘traditional yeast’ is that fresh yeast or dry yeast?
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