Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Challah

This was my first attempt at challah, so I'm calling this one a victory by virtue of the fact that it came out vaguely looking like it should. I took a Peter Reinhart recipe (from Crust and Crumb) and added the chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar. The latter didn't quite work, since I dusted the loaf with the cinnamon sugar before baking. Maybe I should've waited until after it was baked. On the plus side, it made my apartment smell like a Cinnabon.

16 ounces (3.5 cups) bread flour
2 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
0.25 ounces (1 teaspoon) salt
0.22 ounces (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large egg yolks, beaten (whites reserved)
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
½ cup water, at room temperature
6 ounces chocolate chips

Cinnamon sugar topping:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar

Combine all the dough ingredients (except for the egg whites reserved for the egg wash) in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on slow speed for 1 minute, then on medium for about 10 minutes. The dough should be tacky and pass the windowpane test.

Place the dough in a bowl, mist with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for one hour. Remove the dough, and knead it by hand for 5 minutes. Return it to the bowl and let it rise for another hour.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes, to relax the gluten. Working quickly, roll each piece into a log about 10 inches long.

Lay the strands next to each other, and pinch the ends at the top (see below – though the dough in the picture needs a bit more pinching). Now comes the fun part: The numbers underneath the strands are relative to their position on the table, not the strands themselves, i.e. the strand on the right of the table at any given moment is strand 4. Cross the strands over each other using this sequence: 4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3. Repeat until you get to the end, and pinch off the excess dough. I meant to get pictures of this every step of the way, but I got really into what I was doing and forgot. To be honest, I’m surprised how easy it went.

 Anyway, more rising: place your professionally shaped loaf on a prepared baking sheet, and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for another hour.

Wash with egg wash, and cook at 375 for 45 minutes, praying to the gods of baking that everything works out, and rotating the loaf half way through. Allow to cool for 45 minitues before slicing and devouring.


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