Rosemary Challah Bread

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to make a Challah to go with our split pea soup for tonight! Doughy and slightly sweet, this bread is great for dipping, dunking, or just snacking on with some brie or cheddar! You can also personalize it for the occasion- I added some oatmeal to make it a bit heartier and sprinkled some dried rosemary on top.

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ROSEMARY CHALLAH BREAD:

Ingredients:
Yeast Mixture: 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast; 1/2 tsp sugar; 1/4 cup water
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar (I ran out of sugar after about 1/4 cup, so I used Truvia for the rest!)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup dry oats
2 cups white flour (or more, depending on consistency of dough)
1 egg (for brushing the dough)
Rosemary, sesame seeds, etc. for topping!

1. Make yeast mixture by combining yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water in a stand mixer or a large bowl. Set aside. The mixture is ready when it is thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
2. To the yeast mixture, whisk in the following ingredients, one ingredient at a time: 1 cup warm water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 2 eggs.
3. Using dough attachment on mixer, add flour one cup at a time, starting with the wheat flour. Add white flour and oats. Mix on low speed for a few minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. The dough is ready when it’s not too sticky.
4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and set aside in a warm place covered with a damp towel for one hour.
5. After the first rise, punch the dough down a couple times and then allow it to rise in a warm place for another hour.
6. After the second rise, remove dough from bowl, punch it a few times, and start to knead it.
7. Divide the dough equally based on the number of loaves you want to make—a single recipe makes 2 big loaves or many smaller ones. Divide each chunk of dough into 3, roll out the segments between your hands, and braid, starting in the middle.
8. Transfer braided loaf to an oiled baking sheet. If an even larger loaf is desired, let it rise a bit longer.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
10. Beat 1 egg. Paint the top of the challah and sprinkle with the topping of your choice- rosemary seeds and oats were wonderful!
11. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until outside is golden brown. Tap the bottom of the loaf and listen for a hollow sound.

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