Now that my summer has almost officially begun, it's time to start thinking about my summer bucket list. I've got a few things planned already - a cooking class with my mama, attempting to learn how to keep all of our plants alive in the Texas heat, organizing for our summer vacation. But, obviously, a huge part of my to-do list involved cooking and baking. Specifically baking -- I want to tackle some things I've never gotten tried before. First up on the list was challah, and I simply couldn't wait for summer to officially begin to go for it!
I used the dough recipe and braiding technique from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I have to say, this was SO much easier than I had anticipated! The dough is super rich and forgiving, and the braiding is really only two simple steps. Where Deb went with a sweet challah with a delicious fig-orange spread, I decided to veer off into the savory (duh) with kalamata olives, lemon juice, and parmesan. Good call, I must say. I love the sweetness of the dough against the salty olives. Phenomenal!
Challah... let's do this!
Kalamata Olive Challah (dough recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
yields 1 (big) loaf
for the dough, you'll need:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for the bowl
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
for the filling, you'll need:
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
also: 1 beaten egg, for wash
In a large bowl, combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon of honey, and water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy and active. Whisk in the remaining honey, olive oil, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the bowl with the yeast mixture and mix until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an olive-oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Make the filling by pulsing all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. The texture should be like a coarse tapenade. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured counter and divide in half. Take one half and roll it out into a large, thin rectangle (or whatever... the shape doesn't really matter!). Spread half of the olive mixture evenly over the dough, leaving at least an inch border. Roll the dough into a long, tight log. Gently stretch the log to about 3 feet long. Divide in half and set aside. Repeat these steps with the other half of the dough. Now you have 4 ropes, each about 18 inches long. Yes? Yes! Let's start braiding.
Arrange two ropes in each direction, perpendicular to each other. Weave them so that one side is over and the other is under where they meet. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move them over the leg to the right. Now take the legs that were on the right and jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. Tuck the corners and ends of the ropes under the dough to form a round.
Transfer the dough to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg. Allow to rise for 1 more hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the dough again with the beaten egg. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and gorgeous! Cool on a rack before serving.