Our new book has a terrific braided challah with whole wheat and wheat germ, and I’ve been playing with a variation that includes cranberries and orange zest. This same challah recipe lends itself to many other holiday traditions as well, forming the basis in our book for Scandinavian Christmas breads like Pulla and Julekage. It’s really just a lightly enriched yeast dough that is very, very versatile. The recipe……is quite easy, like everything in our book. The main difference between this challah and the white challah from our first book is the ingredients list (lots of whole grains), plus the fact that you need to mix in vital wheat gluten with the dry ingredients first, in order to prevent clumping. Vital wheat gluten is a crucial ingredient for our stored whole grain doughs– we found that unlike white doughs from the first book, they just didn’t store well without it. So here goes:
5 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (“craisins”)
Zest from 1 orange, scraped off with a microzester)
3 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, melted butter, or melted zero trans fat, zero hydrogenated oil margarine
1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs
Egg wash (1 egg lightly blended with 1 tablespoon water)
Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight food container. Drop in the cranberries and orange zest. Add the liquid ingredients and stir them together with a spoon, or use a 14-cup food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Allow the dough to rest and rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it slows down its rising or begins to collapse.
Now follow the directions for challah at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=360, but probably skip the seeds– I don’t think they go with cranberries and orange. You can use some additional orange zest instead; just sprinkle it on after brushing with egg wash. Baking time is 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F (use an oven thermometer). This recipe makes five pounds of dough; make tonight’s loaf a one-pounder and store the rest for up to five days in the fridge, using pieces of dough as needed. Or, store up to 2 weeks in the freezer— freeze in one-pound portions.
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