Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah

I bake more bread than any other type of food. I have bicep, tricep, and finger muscles of steel from all that dough kneading. Just kidding. My bread machine does all of the dirty work. I got this as a Christmas present last year, and have used it religiously. It's especially great for when I need to bake something for a potluck, because I can pour all the ingredients and have it set to do everything without needing my attention (it even bakes the bread :O). If I feel super motivated though, I set it on the dough cycle only, and then shape it separately and bake in my oven.

For the past year, I've experimented with a variety of recipes, but King Arthur's brioche is by far my favorite. I have not tried any other bread recipes ever since I discovered this deliciousness. Butttt it's not the healthiest. And when I stumbled on this challah recipe, the pictures looked so incredible that I just had to give it a shot. It's not as moist and fluffy as the brioche, but also nowhere nearly as greasy. 

To start, mix together 1 packet instant rise yeast, 2/3 cups water, 1/4 cup honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 eggs, 2 tsp sea salt, and 4 cups of flour in your bread machine or Kitchenaid with a dough hook. Alternatively, you can knead it by hand...

Here's what it looks like after kneading. Let sit in a warm place for an hour.

To make the filling, cook 1 cup chopped and stemmed dried figs, 1/8 tsp orange zest, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/8 tsp salt, and a dash of pepper. Heat until figs are softened (just a few minutes), then transfer to a blender or food processor to make a paste.

Cut the dough into quarters, and roll each piece into a large rectangle. Spread the fig filling on top and roll tightly like a jelly roll. Pull your rope as long as you can (should be around 1 to 1 1/2 feet long. You will now have 4 large ropes. Alternatively, you can just make 2 super long ropes and cut in half.

And braid! Lol I don't know how to describe how to braid this, but please click on the recipe link at the end of this post for more details. Brush surface with a beaten egg, let rise for an hour, and then brush again with remaining egg. Bake in the oven at 375F for 35-40 minutes.

Ta da! This thing is HUGE, like about two pounds and literally the size of my head. Two of my ropes broke because I'm a noob and fig filling was oozing all over the place, so it's not the prettiest. I brought this to a pumpkin carving potluck last night, which was a relief because there's no way that the roomie and I would've been able to finish this monster.

Would I make this again? Probably not, it's okay but there are so many more breads to try

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