Holiday Challah Bread Recipe

Keith Cohen created a versatile challah bread recipe that is perfect for holiday festivities.



From "Orwashers Artisan Bread"
July 2014

Yield: Makes 4 loaves

Baking is a combination of art and science. Master baker and owner, Keith Cohen shares his expertise in Orwashers Artisan Bread (Race Point Publishing, 2014). Full of step-by-step instruction and detailed behind-the-scenes looks at how artisan bakers work, Cohen provides recipes to hone your own baking skills to craft the perfect loaf time after time. The following excerpt for a Holiday Challah Bread Recipe can be paired with coffee and tea.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Orwashers Artisan Bread.

Now a holiday favorite, I created Holiday Challah Bread Recipe as a sweet and light-hearted way to celebrate seasonal festivities. This bread has a beautiful interior that is sprinkled with color from the dried fruit and pistachios.

The Holiday Challah is great as toast with tea or coffee—or even better, slice it thinly and bake the slices on a sheet pan until crisp, making a biscotti-like treat.

Holiday Challah Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1.9 lbs/861.8 g bread flour
• 1.2 lbs/544.3 g water
• .25 lb/113.4 g egg yolks
• .1 lb/45.36 g vegetable oil
• .05 lb/22.68 g sugar
• .04 lb/18.14 g salt
• .03 lb/13.61 g instant yeast
• .4 lb/181.4 g cranberries
• .5 lb/226.8 g golden raisins
• .35 lb/158.8 pistachios
• .18 lb/81.65 g orange zest

Instructions:

1. Set up stand mixer with a dough hook.

2. Place flour, water, egg yolks, oil, sugar, and salt in mixing bowl.

3. Mix on medium-low for 5 minutes.

4. Mix on medium-high for 2 minutes.

5. Add yeast. 

6. Mix on medium for an additional 6 minutes.

7. Add cranberries, golden raisins, pistachios, and orange zest.

8. Mix on low until dry ingredients are combined into dough.

9. Dough temperature should be between 76 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees F/24 degrees Celsius and 26 degrees C.

10. Dough should appear shiny and pull away from the mixing bowl

11. Do the dough test (see below).

12. Take dough out of mixing bowl and transfer to lightly oiled airtight container.

13. Let dough rest on counter top for approximately 3 hours. Dough should double in size.

14. Roll dough out of container onto a lightly floured work surface (marble or butcher block is ideal).

15. Cut dough with a scraper into 4 even squares/rectangles, approximately 1.25 lbs/567 g each.

16. Shape each into a boule (see below).

17. Let dough rest 4 hours after shaping.

18. Score an “X” in the top of the loaf.

19. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F/200 degrees C.

20. Bake for 33 minutes until lightly golden brown.

Find more handmade artisan bread recipes in Orwashers Brings Back the Neighborhood Bakery.


The Window Pane Dough Test:

Perform this test to see if the dough has been mixed or kneaded enough.

1. Cut off a small amount of dough, roughly the size of an egg.
2. Hold it between your thumb and first two fingers with both hands.
3. Spread your fingers and thumbs apart, stretching the dough.
4. You should be able to see translucency in the middle part of the dough, similar to a windowpane.
5. If the dough is not translucent, mix for an additional two minutes and try again.


Boule

The term boule is French for “ball.” As you may have guessed, a boule is the traditional shape for French bread—aside from the long, narrow baguette, of course. When shaping a boule, the goal is to give the dough enough surface tension so that the shape will keep through the baking process rather than flatten out.

1. Take an individual piece of dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface.
2. Starting at the top, pinch and pull a piece of the dough from the outside into the middle. Continue this method all the way around the outside of the dough, about five or six times. It helps to think of this process as gathering all the points of a star into the middle. Remember: the goal is to create a surface area with enough tension that it will keep its shape during baking.
3. With the gathering point on the bottom, roll the dough between both hands to make it a solid spherical shape.


This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Orwashers Artisan Bread: 100 Years of Techniques and Recipes by Keith Cohen and published by Race Point Publishing, 2014. Purchase this book from our store: Orwashers Artisan Bread.