Hello, hello…. A second post on a Sunday? Ah, but it’s the Daring Bakers reveal date and this month’s challenge was Challah bread. A new experience for me!
May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
Right, let me tell you one thing. Nothing went smoothly for me in this challenge. First settling on which recipe to use caused me much deliberation (ok, well that’s not exactly unusual). I had the usual task of veganizing the recipe, which it itself was not too tricky as suggestions had been given and I found quite a lot of additional inspiration from other recipes already out there (I looked at too many to name specific resources!)
Then came the debate as to how to actually make the challah. I have a Thermomix and in the Thermomix cookbook there is a specific Challah bread recipe. So, was I to go with the more traditional kneading/rising methods and times suggested in the Daring Bakers Challenge and elsewhere online, or was I to go with the Thermomix method (a swifter process).
So I went with the Thermomix method. In hindsight that was probably a mistake as I had no gauge against others results and it required more guess work in translating my ingredients to their (simple) method and that therefore meant more room for things going awry!
My first stumble:
I killed the yeast (oops!) I added it to milk that I warmed just a little too much. Move onto second trial where I didn’t add the yeast to the liquid prior mixing.
My second stumble:
On to my second attempt and it all went smoothly until the point at which I had to braid. I prepared a 4-strand braid and then realised I had no clue how to create a braid with 4 strands …ha ha! The stands got a bit stretched and mauled whilst I figured it out…I got there in the end*
My third stumble:
Without having the option of using egg wash for the surface, I went for a soy milk with brown rice syrup combo. This was ok I principle I think, but I’m not sure whether it contributed to the over-browing of the top.
My fourth stumble
: The cookbook I used stated bake for 20 minutes at 220C. I checked after 15 and it was very much done! I took it out at this point and it was saved…but had I left it longer….
My fifth (and final) stumble:
I had added a ‘sweet cinnamon butter’ centre to the inside of each strand. I had high hopes for a lovely swirly effect when I cut into the loaf. Hmmm…not so much..it was barely noticeable.
Anyway, it was a good learning experience…and for the all the things that ‘challenged’ me there were plenty of good bits too…
The good bits
: Using the banana as a binder (instead of an egg) worked really well and assisted with the light sweetness. The addition of cinnamon and coconut sugar was delicious. I learnt how to braid with 4 strands…and you know what…
Most importantly, the bread tasted YUMMY! Yes, I said it tasted yummy…perfect when lightly toasted with a mug of tea. Let me tell you I sure needed that mug of tea!
Please feel free to have a go yourself…here is a link to the original Daring Bakers Challenge, which may assist with the process and also give other ideas for ingredients and tips above and beyond my own.
Recipe: Cinnamon challah
400g mix of white and wholegrain spelt flour
½ tsp salt
1 sachet instant yeast
200g warm soy milk (or water)
30g coconut oil
20g coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
To glaze- approx. 3tbs soy milk plus ½ tsp brown rice syrup, extra coconut sugar for sprinkling
Filling- (optional) 3tbs melted coconut butter, 1tbs cinnamon 2 tbs agagve syrup
Add all ingredients to the Thermomix and mix for 20 seconds/speed 3.
Knead for 2 mins of the dough setting. Remove the dough and place ina large oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for approx. 1 hour.
On a flour surface, remove the dough and punch it down. Divide into 4 equal portions and roll each piece into a long sausage shape approx. 40cm long.
For a filled bread- i.e cinnamon as I have done or an alternative sweet or savoury filling, flatten the strands and add a line of filling before pinching together to seal into a thick round strand.
Press the 4 ends together and loosely plait the length of the strands before pressing the ends together to complete the braid. Form into a circle if you wish
Allow the challah to rise for approx. 30 mins and pre-heat the oven to 220C (
based on my experience I would now suggest 200C I would also suggest a longer rising time of 1 hour).
Brush the bread generously with the soy milk/syrup glaze and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the glaze is golden (keep a close eye to prevent burning).
*for a 4-strand braid, think of the 4 strands in two pairs. Cross the inner strands first (one from each pair) and then cross both of the outer stands individually (each pair), repeat the procedure with the inner strands (which will now be the other strand of each pair) then repeat with the pairs…..does that make sense. Basically you are just crossing the inners and then both outers in repetition. If you’re still confused…Google it like it did!
Flattened strand recieving its filling
barely there cinnamon butter swirls!
For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.