chocolate chunk challah
It's fun to say "challah" and even more fun to say "chocolate chunk challah"!
This is a delicious sweet bread to make for a special occasion.... or a fun surprise on a cloudy weekend!
adapted from "The Essence of Chocolate" by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg
- 1 1/2 cups room temperature (warmish) water
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- turbinado or raw sugar for sprinkling on the loaves
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used instant)
- 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use grape seed oil) plus more for the bowl and baking sheets
- 2 tablespoons of honey (If you use the same tablespoon that you used for the oil, the honey will slip right off.)
- 3 large eggs (2 go into the dough and 1 is used for a glaze or wash making the loaves even more beautiful.)
- 4 ounces of 62% semi-sweet chocolate (or a mix of milk and dark), chopped into smallish chunks
Combine in a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of slightly warm water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the yeast. Stir until the yeast has dissolved. (The water should not be too hot or it will kill the yeast. I go by how it feels on the inside of my wrist, slightly on the warm side of room temperature.)
Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the yeast begins to foam. (If it does not bubble up, discard and start again.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, oil, honey, 2 eggs, and the remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Mix on low to medium-low until all of the ingredients are incorporated, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides as necessary. Switch to the dough hook
Add the yeast mixture and 3 cups of the flour and knead on the lowest speed, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl as necessary, until a smooth, elastic dough forms. (If the dough is too sticky, add up to 1 additional cup of flour. The amount of flour needed will vary depending on the eggs and the moisture in the room, but use as little as possible; too much flour will cause the dough to be tough.)
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured board, and shape into a rectangle approximately 7 by 10 inches.
Sprinkle the chocolate pieces across the surface, then gently press into the dough with your hands.
Fold the dough in half over the chocolate. Seal the edges and tuck them slightly under the dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl with about 1 tsp of oil. Folding the edges inward and under, form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl.
Turnthe dough, coating lightly with oil on both sides, and then turn the smooth side up.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets or line with a Silpats or parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and punch down to deflate. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14 inches long. Pinch 3 ropes at one end, then begin braiding, then pinch the other end together. Tuck both ends under slightly, and transfer to one of the baking sheets.
Repeat with the remaining 3 ropes to make a second loaf, and place on the other baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg.
Brush the top of each loaf with the egg glaze, being careful not to let the egg run under the loaves, where it would burn during baking.
Let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour – brush with the egg wash every 15 minutes during the rising time. Just before baking, brush the tops a final time and dust with raw or turbinado sugar.
Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Place the loaves in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until well browned, rotating the pans halfway through baking. If the challah browns too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Cool the loaves on a cooling rack.
Slice carefully. Enjoy. Don't forget to share.