Saturday, January 5, 2013

Olive Oil, Fig and Orange, Challah Bread a Challah!  We pretty much said/ate this all week. We have also said/ate, Kale, salads, egg whites, spin class and cyclocross. BUT...Challah bread was done and did, and good! Stuffed with fig, orange juice, and sprinkled with sea salt, this bread is awesome! Just like a family hug, a new manicure, or a new bike. Olive oil adds a nutty lightness, and makes this bread super delish right out of the pan. If you have any leftover bread the next day, try it toasted with some BUTTER. Yes, I did do that! Word. 
 Olive oil, figs and orange zest. Like a Fig Newton, but better. 

 I did not use a machine to kneed the dough. Just my hands and some help from Matt. Either way, just make sure the dough is elastic, prior to proofing.
 Once proofed, it is split and ready to roll. 
 Rolled out. The fig and orange spread is added. Rolled up, and then made into a rope. 
 An egg wash is added with some extra salt and cracked pepper. Super good. 
The next morning we toasted and buttered the Challah. It was awesome. What a way to ring in the new year. Calvin, even told me, "Mom, you made dessert for breakfast!" Enjoy this bread for a morning celebration, a fancy brunch, or just because the sun is out,  or your house is clean and you bought a new jacket. Enjoy!!!

Fig, Olive oil, and Sea Salt Challah

From Smitten Kitchen...Deb, you are awesome!!

Makes one large loaf


For the Bread:
2 and 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil, plus a bit more for the bowl, when proofing
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 cups of all purpose flour

For the Filling:
1 cup of stemmed, roughly chopped dried figs
1/8 teaspoon finely grated orange zest ( I added about another 1/8 teaspoon more.)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

For the Egg Wash:
1 large egg
Coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on the bread

To make the dough by hand: Proof the yeast with one teaspoon honey and 2/3 cup warm water and let it stand for about 5 minutes, until it foams. Mix the wet ingredients with a whisk, then add the salt and four. Mix everything together until the dough starts to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter or cutting board, and knead for about 10- 15 min, until smooth and elastic dough is formed. Let it rise covered in an olive oiled bowl, covered for about an hour, until doubled in size.

While rising you can make the fig paste. In a small saucepan, combine the figs, 1/2 cup water, the orange juice, salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the figs are soft and tender, for about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, and let it cool, until it is lukewarm. Process the mixture in a food processor until it resembles a fine paste, making sure to scrape down the sides of the processor as needed. Set aside to cool.

To make the Challah: After your dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide it in half. Roll the first half of the dough into a wide and not so perfect rectangle. Spread half the fig filling evenly over the dough, stopping short of the edges. Then, roll the dough into a long, tight log. Stretch the log as wide as feels comfortable, and than do the same thing with the other half of unrolled dough.

Once you have two long rolls of fig filled dough, start to braid the dough. Making sure to tuck in the edges, and pinching the dough together as needed on the ends. Tuck any corners or odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a braid.

Transfer the dough to a parchment covered baking sheet. Beat an egg until smooth, and brush over the challah. Let the bread rise, for another hour and while you do this preheat your oven to 375 D.

To Bake the Bread: Before you bake the loaf of bread, brush it one more time with an egg wash and salt. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes. It should be golden browned. If your bread starts to get to dark cover it with aluminum foil for the remainder of the baking time. If you really want to check to make sure it is done, insert and instant-read thermometer and check the center of the loaf, and it should be 195 degrees.

Once done cool on the rack  before serving. However, serving this hot is much better and worth the hot fingers. Enjoy!!!