Challah with Leek and Poppy
Challah is a traditional bread that holds a special place in Jewish cuisine and culture.
The word "challah" itself comes from the Hebrew term "ḥallah," meaning "portion" or "tithe," reflecting its historical association with offerings made to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Challah is typically characterized by its rich, eggy flavor, golden crust, and a soft, fluffy interior. It is often braided, giving it a distinctive appearance. The braids of challah symbolize unity, togetherness, and the interconnectedness of Jewish communities.
Today, challah continues to be cherished as a symbol of tradition, celebration, and communal connection within Jewish households and communities worldwide. Whether enjoyed plain, with a touch of honey, or used as a base for French toast or bread pudding, challah remains a beloved and timeless part of Jewish culinary heritage.
Of course, we had to shake things up a bit and thus the introduction of the leek. Which looks SO pretty. Seeds are not new to challah, and also add texture and a beautiful rustic finish. I particularly love slicing through this loaf as it shows the bright green of the leek, the blackness of the seeds as well as the fluffy interior of the eggy golden crumb. Delish. Pass the butter and probably some soup!
The original challah recipe is courtesy of Jan from Risen Flour. If you have not tried her flour yet, it is definitely time to make an order. They are all Australian and amazingly, when we did a sieve of the bakers flour, the full bran flake was left in the sieve. We couldn't believe it. That is how great a locally grown and milled flour is in comparison to a factory product. You cannot taste or feel the bran in the loaf, but it is definitely there!
Check out some of our other amazing bread recipes in this scintillating article;
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- 1 leek
- water and ice for blanching
- 370 Grams water
- 12 Grams dried active yeast
- 1015 Grams bakers or strong flour
- 160 Grams eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 90 Grams raw caster sugar BUY
- 85 Grams Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) BUY
- 22 Grams Fine grind salt
- egg wash as needed
- Nigella or poppy seeds as needed
You can blanch your leeks first, or you can do this step while you are waiting on the challah dough to prove. There is loads of time to do this. The blanched leeks must be completely cold and dry before plaiting into the dough.
Pull the leek apart entirely, reserving as much of the green part as you can without it being too stringy or tough. Wash extremely well.
Put a large pot of water onto boil and set another bowl of iced water nearby.
Dunk each leek layer into the boiling water for a few seconds, transferring as soon as it is bright green, to the iced water. Proceed with all of the leek leaves.
Lay them out flat on a tea towel lined tray to dry.
To make the challah dough; Place water and yeast into the Thermomix bowl and warm 1 min/37°C/speed 1.
Add flour, eggs, yolks, sugar, EVOO and salt and mix 6 sec/speed 6. Knead 2 min/Interval/dough setting.
Tip out onto lightly oiled bread mat and wrap. Prove on the bench at room temperature for 1 hour then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours.
It is much easier to shape the challah when the dough is cold. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Then divide each into 3 for a 3 plait, or 5 or even more if you know what you are doing!
Wrap one strand of each intended loaf with a piece of the blanched leek. Roll a second strand in a tray of seeds of choice.
Shape each challah by braiding and turning in on itself if you wish to make a round version. Arrange on paper lined trays, cover and allow to rise for probably 1-2 hours until well proved and puffy. This time will vary considerably based on how warm your room temperature is. We found that as it is cold right now, we had to use the warmer drawer to get any action! This is a lot of bread dough and a relatively small amount of yeast.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 190°C and apply egg wash on the remaining strand that you can gain access to! You could also sprinkle some pink salt flakes on this strand, it will taste amazing and look fantastic. (Go Murray River Salt!)
If I was making a full batch of this dough (we halved it) then I would not do all the same, with the leek etc. I would brush one plain challah with honey after coming out of the oven. Or add in some freeze dried raspberries to a strand and then on top as well. So many options, so little time!
NOTES from Jan; Steam is not necessary when baking enriched doughs. This loaf is done when an internal temp or 90-93°C is reached. Measure the internal temp of the loaf outside of the oven. Place your baking rack just below the centre of the oven which gives optimal temperature.
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