Hello! It’s been a few months, and so much has changed in that time. It’s been quite terrifying to see images from places like New York and Italy, hard hit with Covid-19. My heart goes out to everyone effected by this pandemic. It’s hard to process something that is in so many ways out of our control. It’s harder to think that this may be our new reality for a year or more. And yet, we must go on, trying to maintain a semblance of routine in a time where so many things feel scary and unfamiliar.
A lot of people have been getting into bread baking as a way to stay inspired or just sane while cooped up at home, and I thought it would be a good time to share a challah recipe. Challah is probably one of the things I bake the most often, and Mike is definitely a big fan! He especially loves this flavor combo, so I think he was pretty pleased I decided to make it for the blog.
You can pretty easily make this recipe vegan - just leave out the egg wash and cheese, for a vegan pesto challah.
This dough is super easy, basically just requires adding things in order and kneading for a few minutes.
Then a rise, during which you can make your fresh pesto!
I think the thing that makes this particular recipe irresistible is the stuffing, which is done by flatting the strands with a rolling pin, spreading the cheese and pesto, and then encasing the filling.
It’s also not a big deal if things get a little messy during this part - a little pesto cheese peekaboo isn’t so bad ;)
Then we braid these treasure troves of flavor together…
Finally, an egg wash helps this loaf get some gorgeous color.
Then we pop it in the oven, and 30 minutes later a gorgeous challah is born.
I hope you’re all staying safe. Wishing everyone health and wellbeing.
- 1 hour
- 30 minutes
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup oil, plus a little extra for oiling bowl
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 cup pesto, homemade or store bought
- 8 oz mozzarella in water (or shredded)
- 1 egg
- 1 bunch basil
- 1 bunch cilantro (or another bunch basil)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, mix together flour, sugar, and yeast.
- Add oil, water, and salt.
- Knead using dough hook on low/medium speed until dough comes together, plus 2-3 minutes. You should have a soft, pliable dough that doesn’t stick to the bowl.
- Coat dough in a little extra oil, place in bowl, cover with a clean towel, and place in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours to rise. It should approximately double in volume.
- While you wait for dough to rise, if you’re making your own pesto, put basil, cilantro, and olive oil in blender and blend until smooth. Salt to taste.
- Once dough is ready, tip unto a very lightly floured surface. Slightly flatten into a semi rectangular shape, and cut three strips.
- Using a rolling pin, flatten one of the strips to a long strand about 3 inches across.
- Spread a third of your pesto and cheese in the middle of the strip. Fold over strip and pinch closed.
- Repeat with other two strands.
- Braid together strands. You can lightly push the braid from the ends of the long side to make a shorter, “fuller” looking braid.
- Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Let loaf rest for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400F.
- After 30 minute rest, beat an egg and brush on loaf.
- Bake until a beautiful golden brown, approximately 28 minutes.
- Enjoy your creation!
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