One of my earliest loves on this here blog was challah. I’d never made it before a few years ago, and truth be told, I’m not sure I’d ever eaten it before then, either. But there I was, me and my first-ever homemade challah (please ignore the horrendous photos and the fact that I baked them on WAX PAPER… ah, adventures), and it was love at first sight. And bite.
Fast-forward to today and not much has changed except that whenever I decide to bake challah, I know I’m in for something yummy.
Challah is one of my favorite breads to bake because not only is it delicious, it’s simple and fuss-free to make (which we all know by now is how I like to roll). It’s also fairly forgiving in that if the dough doesn’t rise quite well enough or if it doesn’t look all that pretty going into the oven, the end result is almost always something beautiful. Of course, none of that really matters anyway when all you can think about is eating it, to which I can attest firsthand.
All that to say, this fig, raspberry and sea salt challah is probably my favorite challah bread baked to date. I mean, there are swirls of fig and raspberry jam in there. There’s sea salt sprinkled on top. There’s olive oil in the dough that makes it extra flavorful and soft. It makes for great toast and French toast and French toast casserole. Need I say more?
I’ve been dreaming of making this loaf since Deb posted her original version, and I am oh-so-glad I finally took the plunge and decided to make it. I really don’t know why it took me so long. But I do know for sure that I won’t wait very long to make it again, considering I have plans for this first loaf to rapidly disappear into the aforementioned forms of toast, French toast and French toast casserole this weekend. It’s going to be a very happy, carb-filled two days, to say the least.
And while I come bearing this yumminess, unfortunately due to some unforeseen busyness and happenings, I don’t have a video for you today. Wah wahhh. But rest assured, the series continues in full force next week.
Instead, let’s do some math: Yeast + flour + fig and raspberry jam + sea salt + olive oil = challah = love.
- ⅔ cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon honey
- ⅓ cup good-quality olive oil
- 3 eggs, divided
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt or 1½ teaspoons table salt
- ½ cup fig jam or preserves
- ¼ cup raspberry jam or preserves
- Sea salt, for sprinkling on top of loaf
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into warm water. Let sit 10 minutes until foamy.
- Add remaining honey, olive oil and 2 eggs; stir to combine. Add flour and salt and stir until a dough forms. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface 10 to 15 minutes until smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky OR knead dough in stand mixer with dough hook on low speed 7 to 8 minutes until smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 1 to 2 hours until doubled.
- Punch down risen dough. Divide into three equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough into a wide rectangle, about 8 by 15 inches. Spread half of the fig jam on top of dough. Roll up dough tightly from the long end into a log, pinching seam to seal. Carefully stretch dough so the log is about 15 inches long. Set aside.
- Repeat with remaining dough, filling one with the remaining fig jam and the other with the raspberry jam.
- Place the logs side by side. Take the left strand and cross it over the middle strand, then take the right strand and also cross it over the middle strand. Repeat, crossing the left over the middle strand, then the right over the middle strand until you reach the edge. Pinch and fold the edge under to seal the seams together. Repeat the process up the top half of the loaf.
- Transfer the loaf to a lightly floured parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl, then brush top of loaf with egg wash. Lightly spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and set over dough. Let rise 1 hour until puffy but not doubled.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush dough one more time with egg wash, then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until deep brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.