I had been itching to try to bake challah bread (the beautifully braided, egg heavy Jewish bread), so with several hours free yesterday, I made my first attempt. In true spirit of clearing out the fridge, I found a fruit challah recipe online from Smitten Kitchen. You can find her recipe for Apple and Honey Challah here. The bread looks tasty and the pictorial instructions in braiding a round challah are especially nifty!
Since I had two nectarines which were becoming shrivelly, a small handful of blackberries, and a ripe peach, I decided to make a peach-filled challah. The result? A lovely buttery yellow bread, soft on the inside, with a slightly sweet, crispy crust. I like the crust!
As before when I attempted to make a raspberry cream cheese bread, I added too much fruit, so had difficulty shaping the bread. Also, wet ingredients are harder to shape, so next time, I would either add less (lesson learned!) or stick with dry ingredients (mmm, regular challah, cheese, or a sprinkle of cinnamon or, oh… nutella).
Below is my recipe for Peach Egg Bread – adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Apple and Honey Challah recipe. I’m calling it the Peach Egg Bread instead of Peach Challah since they were shaped as regular loaves and a far from the traditional challah. Also, most challah recipes call for enough eggs to use up more than half your dozen carton, making three large loaves. I only needed one large loaf (ended up with three smaller ones), so this recipe, with its three eggs and two cups of flour worked well for me.
Scroll to the bottom to see the recipe and ingredient list.
So first, you’d need all your ingredients. I used too much fruit, making it difficult to stuff and fold everything into the dough so you may want to cut down on the amount you use. I was overly ambitious in cleaning out the fridge. Oh well.
I love seeing how much bread dough has ‘bloomed’ after letting it rest. As an amateur bread lover, I also greatly enjoy the smell, even as it is ‘resting.’ Here’s a picture of the dough, after it’s completed its first ‘rest,’ just because.
To fold fruit into dough, you’ll need to turn dough out, flatten with your fingers (lightly pressing into the dough), and place 2/3 of fruit onto just under 1/2 of your dough. Fold the half that has not been covered in fruit over to cover the half with fruit. Flatten again by pressing into it (sort of like ‘finger walking’ over the dough). Add a little more fruit to the dough. Fold again. Tuck the ends under.
The smell of bread baking is one of the most wonderful smells ever. The smell of this sweet bread filled the apartment almost right away. Wait for it to cool completely before enjoying, and make sure you wrap it up tightly to retain moisture after bread has cooled completely (to avoid condensation). The bread starts to lose its softness the next day, but tastes great reheated and buttered.
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast/instant yeast
- 1/3 cup maple syrup + 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 large eggs + 1 yolk (reserve egg white for wash)
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- Leftover berries (I used a small handful of blackberries)
- 2 small nectarines, cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 peach, cut into bite sized chunks
- Egg white
- Granulated sugar
- Whisk 2/3 cup of warm water (the temperature that’ll you’ll be comfortable taking a shower in) with 1 tsp maple syrup and yeast. Let stand for a few minutes to activate yeast.
- Whisk yeast mixture, butter, remaining maple syrup, 2 eggs + 1 yolk and beat gently until a smooth yellow liquid is formed. Add the salt.
- Add the flour combine using a wooden spatula until a soft dough is formed.
- Turn the dough out and knead gently but firmly, about 11 minutes (maybe less – I have small hands and don’t work very fast).
- Place dough into a (oiled) clean bowl, cover and let rise for an hour or so.
- Turn dough out, flatten with your fingers (lightly pressing into the dough), and place 2/3 of fruit onto just under 1/2 of your dough. Fold the half that has not been covered in fruit over to cover the half with fruit. Flatten again by pressing into it (sort of like ‘finger walking’ over the dough). Add a little more fruit to the dough. Fold again. Tuck the ends under*.
*By now your dough will be quite wet as the fruit spreads its juices. Don’t worry if you lose a few extra pieces of fruit. Set them aside.
- Return dough to bowl, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Remove your dough from the bowl and divide into two equal halves with a knife. Be careful not to tear the dough too much. Use a sawing motion to cut dough, even if you don’t have a bread knife*.
*If you would like to create a round, braided challah, follow Smitten Kitchen’s instructions. She has great pictures on how to create a braided challah.
- Shape your halves into two loaves and place into two greased bread pans.
- Press extra fruit into the surface of your bread, brush egg white over the tops, and sprinkle a generous amount of sugar over top.
- Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375F about 10 minutes in advance.
- Place loaves into oven and bake for 40 minutes. Cool completely before eating.