Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah

Recipe 16 from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2018 has been a better start for you then you anticipated. I heard in church today that this early part of the year is the most depressing time for many people because all the holiday fun is over, the bills from Christmas come in and the weather is usually lousy in most parts of the country.

If that’s you, you’re in good company.

I used to live in the Midwest and January was always my least favorite month becauae there was nothing to look forward to. I live in a much nicer part of the country these days but I still have the gloomy mood when I think of this time of year. Bless you wherever you are and try to put something on the calendar this month that keeps you going :)

And if you’re looking for an all day recipe, then keep reading because this one will meet that need! Ooft!

I struggled through this recipe guys.

Struggled.

Yet, I was pleasantly surprised by the result and feel pretty proud of the look and taste of this bread despite my challenges.

I love making bread so the process is not exactly scary or new but I had the first time bread making jitters again becauae I’ve never before made challah.

And Deb sets the bar kind of high for this one as she writes in her recipe introduction about the legacy of challah to “her people,” meaning those who are Jewish, and how beloved this bread is.

So, I went into this with low expectations for myself and somehow sensing I was going to get something wrong. So…naturally…. :)

Two things I’ve learned about breadmaking:

1. Make sure your yeast activates

2. Watch how much you knead the dough.

Other then that, it kind of takes care of itself. Granted I am not talking about crusty hard breads because I’ve never made those, so if you’re rolling your eyes at my weak attempt at giving advice I offer you that meek note.

I know for this recipe I got the yeast right because of the foamy top and smell telling me it activated. It also rose well each rising so…there’s that :)

But I decided to use my KitchenAid mixer to do the kneading since she provided instructions for how to do it that way. But she suggests 8 to 10 minutes mixing and I feel like that was too much. She knows more about this recipe so I didn’t argue but I think the elasticity of the dough went away because it was kneaded too long. As it kept going I began to question if I should stop the mixer, but it had so much longer to go that I figured…”Well, maybe this is different dough then I’m used to. Just follow the directions and see where this goes.”

I obviously don’t trust my experience :)

The dough still doubled and rose every time it needed to so I know now I should have trusted my bread experience when I felt the dough and began to question its texture.

Next time I would probably do the kneading by hand so I could get a feel for when it’s done.

The next recipe in the series and actually the LAST breakfast recipe also involves making bread dough so that will give me a chance to redeem myself :)

I think one of the things I loved about this recipe was the chance I had to use some of my kitchen gadgets I tuck away becauae they are not used often enough to keep in cabinets or on countertops. It’s silly, I know, but when you pull them out and clean them up it’s like quietly justifying why this contraption was a good purchase.

Okay, so you’ll begin to see what started to go amiss in these pictures of the dough.

I was able to split it and roll it out per her instructions but the dough was more the consistency of play dough not soft and plyable bread dough. Because of that, my shape, while rolling, kept shrinking and getting smaller.

I managed a halfway decent square despite my struggles, but I was supposed to spread the fig mixture into the dough then tightly roll the mixture into the dough before stretching it out and cutting it in half to make the first 2 strands of the 4 part dough braid.

The rolling went mostly fine, though it was not as tight as I would have liked.

However, you can see from the picture above that stretching them was a joke. I tried, but the same stiffness I experienced while rolling showed up here too. It kept shrinking or tearing and the fig mixture was exposed.

At this point I stopped trying and just opted to try and make the best of the stiff dough, creating something resembling braided bread like she was trying to explain in the directions.

But, let’s be honest. This is hideous and resembles something….well…something I guess. Ugh.

But this….this…is redemption. Yes, it looks like a turkey. I agree. But it looks far more delicious then those pictures above, right?!

It got all brown and pretty and sort of looked like bread from some angles!

The best part is my husband and I actually enjoyed It! Not for breakfast but for dinner :)

Labor intensive but fun to make and a great challenge if you’re up for it :)

I get to bring you the recipe via The Smitten Kitchen Blog this time since she has it shared on her site….check it out….

Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Blog by Deb Perelman.

Happy bread baking readers! On to my last breakfast recipe!

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