There are a few things in life that you can do and then there are some that you cannot. Sooner you get in terms with that, the better. Like I have come in terms with the fact that I just can not bake a beautiful loaf of bread. However hard I try it never comes out to be crusty on the outside, light and airy on the inside. But I always want to bake one and look for people who can teach me the right tricks to do so. So today I thought of inviting my dear friend Shulie who knows a thing or two about the art of baking a bread! Shulie like me also has her roots back in India. She comes from an Indian Jewish family and was born and brought up in Israel but has lived in the US for half her life. You can imagine how culturally rich her kitchen and her recipes must be. When I expressed my lack of skills in the baking front she very kindly offered me to teach a few tricks. What better recipe to learn from her than a Challah, right? So let me present you Shulie from Food Wanderings, a gorgeous and informative blog you just can’t afford to miss!
When the wonderful and very talented Prerna asked me to guest for her, initially I was thinking of something Indian from my mom’s. When I saw a recipe by an Israeli chef for a spelt savory challah filled with sauteed vegetables the opportunity presented itself. For years now I wished to bake with different grains. Somehow I felt the spelt would go perfectly with chocolate and upon further baking and experimenting, I felt my original proportion for the honey challah worked best. For example instead of the 3/4 cup oil I only used 1/2. One thing led to another and I thought what better recipe to share with Prerna than one from my Jewish and Israeli heritage. Although the recipe is evolved from savory to sweet and tweaked, originally it was dubbed A Galilee Challah.
This dough is very versatile. If you wish to make only rolls, reduce sugar to 1/2 cup and make knots for individual mini rolls. You can also make sweet rolls and leave the recipe as is. You can make 2 Babka loaves with two thirds of the dough and mini individual rolls with the third remaining dough and so on…
Spelt flour can be found at Whole Foods or at least in the DC area in some mainstream supermarkets. It can also be found online . I bought two organic brands Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill. I baked with both batches challah rolls and babkas, both came out fabulous. They vary slightly in texture and moisture level. Arrowhead is slightly coarser, Red Mill more floury. Arrowhead seems to have more moisture. Add to both doughs water slowly while kneading in mixer as different spelt flours from different companies vary.
½ kg (1.1lbs) all purpose unbleached flour
½ kg (1.1lbs) spelt flour
25 grams (3 ½ packets) of active dry yeast (each packet is 1/4oz)
¾ cups sugar in the raw
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups mineral water
½ cup canola oil
1 egg for egg wash
12oz bitter sweet chocolate chips
2oz corn starch
In a mixer with a hook attachment, add both flours, yeast, sugar, salt, canola oil and eggs. Mix on low and slowly add water. Knead on low for about 8-10 minutes. Coat with a light film of oil and set back into mixer bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a cool spot for an hour until doubles.
While Dough is rising, melt butter and chocolate in a bain-marie, a water bath, until melted to smooth silky texture. Take chocolate/butter mixture off the heat and add corn starch. Mix well and let cool.
Cut risen dough into thirds. With one third, work on lightly floured surface. Return the other two parts to the bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Butter 9X5X2 ¾ inch loaf pan. At this point you can butter three loaf pans to make entire dough into three loaves
Roll out each third into about 18×14 inch rectangular shape. Spread third of chocolate mixture on rolled out dough surface, leaving an uncovered edge/border of about ¼ inch all around. Fold ¼ inch wide edges and start folding into a rolled torte shape from long side. Twist rolled dough 5-6 times/twists and fit into loaf pan.
Brush with a beaten egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and let rest for 20-40 minutes covered with plastic wrap. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until deep golden on top.
If you wish to make plain spelt challah roll knots, divide dough into palm size rolls, roll out to about a nine inch cylinder and knot like first knot of a shoelace, with one edge of the knot popping up through the hole. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Let rolls rise for 20-40 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet, one inch apart from each other, covered with plastic wrap. Pop cookie sheet into a preheated 350F oven for 15-25 minutes or until deep golden.
Once cooled, loaves can be frozen wrapped in foil and then plastic wrap. Reheat oven to 350F before serving, take plastic wrap off and reheat in foil for about 20 minutes. Put frozen loaf directly into preheated oven.