We all really enjoyed the almond challah two weeks ago, so I wasn’t all that excited to be making another one this week, figuring, how different could it be? Well, that was a whole grain challah – substantive, great for sandwiches, a really goo general all-around bread. This challah was a buttery loaf of deliciousness, so reminiscent of the challah I remember form my childhood.
Perfect, traditional challah texture and taste. My husband and I agreed that we could easily sit and eat the entire huge loaf ourselves…in one sitting! But, we didn’t, thank goodness. I did nibble on it all through the night, though. and any time I walked past it in the kitchen.
And, almost as good as how this tasted, was the story of the recipe. Check it out on Life’s a feast. It is worth the read.
Jayne Cohen’s Almond Challah
2 ¾ oz (78 g) finely ground almonds or almond flour
½ cup (100 g) sugar
2 tsps salt
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
½ oz (2 envelopes ¼ oz each)(15 g) active dry yeast
4 large egg yolks (form Farmer Kim)
5 cups (approximately 650 g) bread flour (I used French all-purpose flour), lightly spooned into the measuring cup and levelled off
16 Tbs (225 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk, for egg wash
About 2 Tbs sesame seeds or sliced almonds
Whisk the ground almonds, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast to the bowl, without mixing into the almond mixture.
Gently heat the milk to 100° – 110°F, warm to skin temperature, not hot. Pour the warm milk over the yeast and allow it to dissolve and proof until frothy, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Add the egg yolks and whisk to blend. Whisk in the tepid melted butter.
Add 4 ½ cups of the flour, one cup at a time, whisking or stirring until blended after each addition (I used a whisk for the first 2 cups flour then used a wooden spoon). Pour the remaining ½ cup onto the work surface and scrape the dough out onto the flour. Knead quickly just to incorporate the ½ cup flour and the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a clean, well-greased bowl, turning to coat the dough with the oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 3 – 4 hours.
Punch the dough down and divide it into 3 pieces, as equal in size and weight as possible. Press and roll each piece into a long rope, making sure that the three ropes are equal in length. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet and place the three dough ropes side by side on the parchment. Braid the ropes – start in the middle and braid one end out, then switch sides and, starting back in the middle, braid the other half out and towards you. Carefully form the braided dough into as tight a circle as possible, tucking under the six ends.
Cover once again with plastic wrap and allow to double in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare the egg wash and brush the wash all over the dough, even down the sides and inside the folds. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds or the sesame seeds.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until a deep golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool.
Slice and enjoy!