Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cranberry-Orange Challah with wholewheat

Another successful bread recipe from "Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzbert, M.D. and Zoe Francois!  Actually this recipe was provided by Jeff to our HBin5 google group for our December bread recipe.  So let me jump right in with the details!

First I have to confess, my husband is NOT a fan of whole the point where if he KNOWS whole wheat is in the recipe he doesn't even want to try it.  But I coax him to try it, and occassionally he is delighted with the results of my efforts. 

For this reason I switched the all purpose and whole wheat flours around.  Instead of 5 cups of whole wheat and 3 cups of all purpose flour, I used 3 cups of whole wheat and 5 cups of all purpose flour.  The other substitution I made was flax seed meal for the wheat germ.  This was one of the substitutions that Michelle posted and it worked fine.  I just hadn't had time and the memory to get wheat germ, but had the flax seed meal. 

The texture of the dough was spot on.  I've been making challot (plural of challah) for about 20 years now.  I love Jeff and Zoe's recipe for it in the original book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and had switched to it last year.  Previous to that I was doing the "old fashioned" type of recipe that was time consuming, albeit a good bread. 

My kitchen is very cold this time of year.  Matter of fact I am sitting here with an undershirt on under my Chanukah tee shirt, and a sweatshirt with a hood on it typing this!  I could turn up the heat, but let's face it, since I pay the utilities I am too cheap to do that!  LOL. 

The point of that paragraph is that it takes longer for my dough to do the first rise.  So I just let it sit there for about 3-4 hrs.  When I came into the kitchen to check the dough just before retiring for the evening I found that my dough was pushing the lid off!  It's a very active dough!  I jiggled and then pushed the dough down a bit to where it was about 3 inches below the top of my container and put it in the frig.  Checked it again in the morning and lo and behold had to jiggle it down again!  Hm.  Didn't know what I was going to come home to at this point! 

When I took it out of the frig to start working with it, it was once again up to the top of the container, but hadn't pushed the lid up.  Working with the dough was very easy.  Some of the ABin5, and the HBin5 doughs are very soft and loose but this challah dough was just right. 

First thing I decided to make was "sufganiots" or jelly donuts.  I don't make donuts usually, and only buy donut holes every once in a blue moon.  But one of our HBin5 group members had suggested using the dough for the jelly donuts and I decided to try it.  After looking up several sites on the web about how to get the jelly in the donuts I chose to attempt the "wrapping the dough around the jelly" method and then frying them.  It was NOT successful.  All the jelly leaked out in the frying! 

Although I had bought two different kitchen gadgets to try stuffing the donuts, I decided not to attempt it until later.  Just running out of time, and energy since I was also cooking latkes for the first night of Chanukah for my hubby, Ken, and I, after a full day of work! 

When frying the donuts, which looked more like small cannon balls, I found it very difficult to tell when they were cooked through inside. I don't make donuts, remember?  Eventually I took them out before they burned.  Then rolled them in sugar and set them aside. 

We ate the donuts as part of our Chanukah meal last night for dessert.  Whle they were good, and the texture was quite acceptable, Ken just didn't care for the dough done that way.  He also made a comment about the whole wheat! 

This morning I made the rest of the dough into two challot, putting both into the standard 3 braid.  After reviewing all the different braiding techniques I decided to stick with my traditional 3 strand braid.  But one thing I did different was roll the ends of the three stands together instead of tucking them underneath.  On the larger loaf I made an indent, moistened the dough, then placed a very small challah on it. 

Just before baking I put the orange zest and sugar on the top of the smaller loaf.  But I had put the sugar and orange zest together in a bowl thinking that that would help the orange zest dry out.  Think again!  It just made a gunky mess.  I couldn't really sprinkle it on top, instead I kind of dropped it on top and then used my egg wash brush to schmear it around on the top of the braided dough.  I just did a regular egg wash on the other one.  Both baked up beautiful! 

On Saturday mornings I go to Wayne and Wanetta's house, my neighbor's, for breakfast.  Wayne makes great poached eggs for me and we all have a great time talking and laughing.  This morning their daughter Denise was there also and it's always fun to see her!  I took down a stack of latkes, the cran-raisin, orange zested challah, and some great Dundee orange marmalade that Denise had picked up at Trader Joe's for me.  I had already sent down some of my homemade Rosh Hashanah apple sauce for the latkes the night before.  So we had a feast for breakfast! 

The challah had just the right balance of orange zest and cranraisins in it.  The texture of the bread was  between cake and bread.  The crumb was excellent.  It all held together extremely well when applying butter, no tearing or having to be ever so gentle with the spreading knife. 

Wanetta, my neighbor cutting the challah.  I always take down a loaf of any of my breads to her and her husband, Wayne.  Denise checking the crumb of the bread.  By the time I left, we'd devoured half the loaf!  Oh bother, now I have to make Wanetta another one!  LOL.  BTW Denise loved the donuts!

Ken enjoying the Cran-raisin and orange zest challah! 


  1. WOW were you busy! Your braids are just gorgeous and I love the Double Braid!

    Since you did not link up your Banana Pumpkin Broiche, why not link that bread on our current Bread Braid?


  2. Your bread is beautiful. How nice of you to share with your neighbors!

  3. I love your braids! Beautiful job. And the donuts...omg...I want one right now!

  4. I love that you bring bread to your neighbors, such a thoughtful gift! And they all look wonderful.

  5. I want to try the doughnut hole thing, too...and your loaves are gorgeous! Love the little braid on a braid look ;D

  6. WOW a double .....who would have thought of that??? I love it thanks for sharing........

  7. Thanks for sharing. They are gorgeous and yummy looking!

  8. Your double braid is so pretty! I have to remember that idea next time I make this recipe!

  9. Double braid is so wonderful! I want to learn how to do that, it is just beautiful!

  10. I just figured out how to braid and now "thanks to you" will try a double! :)
    Wow does it look nice!

  11. What a beautiful braid. I love doubled braided breads. Very nice of you to share with your neighbor. I see you got the image up. I knew you could do it!

  12. Your loaves are so shiny and smooth. My kitchen seems especially drafty this time of year. I will take your tip and let me dough rise 3-4 hours.

  13. My solution to the cold kitchen problem is to let the dough rise in my bedroom since that's the only place where I have the heat on. But SHHHH don't tell!

    Your braids are so gorgeous and I really like the donut idea. I couldn't really taste the whole wheat in this but I'm still definitely glad that I switched the flours around.

  14. Just great! I will also try swapping the flours. I didn't like so much whole wheat. I wonder how that affected the water amount. Love the braids ( I just mastered 2 strand braiding, it looks just like my old bakery!) Judy L, TN

  15. Those donuts look yummy! Can I confess to a fear of deep frying foods? The double braid is impressive, too. What a yummy breakfast it must have been!

  16. Your double braid is gorgeous! I'll keep that in mind for my next braid - Thanks :)

  17. both braids are beautiful..but especially the double braid! and the donuts? YUM!!!