September 29, 2008

Harvest Honey Challah

Harvest Honey Challah
Dough: 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/4 cup honey, 2 large eggs, 3 - 4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon active dry yeast.
Filling: 2 cups dry cherries (cranberries or dark raisins), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, fresh zest from 1/2 of lemon, 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Glaze: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, coarse white sugar, optional
To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a dash of flour and sugar. Combine all ingridients except flour in a food processor. Add yeast mixture, turn on the motor and slowly add flour. Immediately stop adding a flour, when a soft and smooth dough is being formed.

Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it's puffy and nearly doubled in bulk. Punch dough down. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan that's at least 2" deep. Or grease a 9" or 10" spring form pan.
Preparing filling, thoroughly mix sugar and zest, add cinnamon.
Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8" x 10". Spread cinammon mixture and dry cherries all over the dough. Roll the dough, using the dish towel to help. Take a bench knife or a knife, or even a pair of scissors, and cut the cherries-filled dough into 16 pieces. To achieve this, cut the rolled log horizontally into 2 parts, then cut each part into 8 pieces.Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so that they all fit in a single layer
Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it's a generous 2" high. It should just crest the rim of a 9" round cake pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325°F. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, and sprinkle heavily with the coarse sugar, if desired. If you're going to drizzle with honey before serving, omit the sugar.

Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake it for 55 minutes, or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Remove the challah from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack.

Serve the bread hot, warm, or at room temperature. Drizzle with honey just before serving, if desired; or serve with honey for dipping.

Idea for the recipe from King Arthur Harvest Apple Challah

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