My husband was away, so it was just my son and I at home and I didn’t feel like fussing over dinner and he didn’t feel like eating a fancy dinner. So, I decided to make a double-duty challah that I would just serve with eggs. I had pesto in the fridge and always have mozzarella on hand, so a pesto and mozzarella challah it was.
It has been a while since I made a challah stuffed with a liquid-y filling, and I initially forgot to only put a little pesto on the flattened dough rope. What a mess! There was no way that rope was going to close up. I ended up taking some dough from the other ropes, flattening it out and using it to wrap up the first rope. Thus, you can see the extra bread on the right side of the slice above.
So, roll the dough out wide and use the pesto sparingly…
The cheese is a little more forgiving, but still, you need to be able to seal the dough around it.
I ended up making long ropes, so I decided to shape the braid into a circle. I think it turned out quite pretty, if I do say so myself.
Pesto and Mozzarella Challah
- 3/4 c water
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry or instant yeast (1 packet)
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 egg plus 1 more for egg wash
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 c flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 – 2 Tbsp pesto (whichever kind you prefer)
- 1 – 2 ounces shredded mozzarella
- finely grate parmesan for topping, optional
Add the yeast and sugar to warm water in mixing bowl. Allow yeast to proof about 10 minutes.
Add the egg and olive oil and mix well. Then add the flour and salt. Mix by hand or on a stand mixer until a ball forms. Place in oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap or a towel. Allow to rise at about an hour and a half, until dough has doubled in size. (I put my dough in the fridge overnight to rise until I am ready to bake the next day, this allows more flavor to develop in the dough).
Divide the dough into three equal sections. Roll each into a rope, then flatten to about 3 inches wide. Place the pesto or cheese down the center of the rope and pinch the dough together. Roll the rope back and forth to seal the seam. I filled 2 ropes with pesto, 1 with cheese; you can do any combination, including the pesto and cheese together (if you do that, be especially careful not to use too much pesto, or the rope will not seal).
Braid as you would like. Place the braid on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise an additional 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350F.
Brush with an egg wash and top with finely grated parmesan cheese if you like. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden and the internal temperature is over 200F.
Makes 1 loaf