Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ancient Grain Challah




Necessity is the mother of invention. This week I wanted to use up a started bag of King Arthur Ancient Grain flour blend  and also needed challah for Shabbat.  The blend is gluten free, but the following recipe is certainly not : the bread has white whole wheat, bread and all purpose flour blended together with the ancient grain blend.  The resulting dough is less stretchy than more traditional challah dough. After the first rise I  deflated the dough by hand and noticed that it felt a bit "grainy."  The color of the dough is "beige" rather than yellow or white. The texture is not quite traditional challah, not quiet artisan bread. The crust is a bit thicker and a bit crusty. The loaf slices wonderfully, the bread makes very satisfying sandwich slices.

Choreography/ Notes:
A longer, slow slow first rise improves the texture of the dough.  I mixed the dough, drizzled oil into the bowl and turned the dough so that the entire dough ball was covered with a slick of oil. The dough was then covered with plastic wrap and left in the refrigerator for 8 hours. It rose nicely, albeit a bit slower than challah usually does. As I mentioned, the dough is not as stretchy as traditional challah, but allowing the dough to come to room temperature helped improve the workability of the dough.

Equipment:
kitchen scale
measuring cups, measuring spoons
electric mixer (optional, but helpful)
baking pans : 3 medium loaf pans or two large loaf pans or parchment lined baking sheet




Ingredients: 
4.5 tsp instant yeast (2 packages)
2.5 tsp kosher salt
15 to 16 oz warm water  (2 scant cups)
4 large eggs
8 oz ancient grain blend - I used King Arthur Ancient Grains blend, but would appreciate feed back if    anyone uses another mixture.
8 oz white whole wheat flour
10 oz bread flour
10 oz unbleached all purpose flour
4oz (1/2c) honey
4 oz (1/2c) olive or vegetable oil plus approximately 2 Tbsp to grease the bowl
1/4c soy or almond milk
1/4c brown sugar mixed with a Tbsp or two of hot water
1/4c old fashioned oats
spray oil to grease the pans
small amount of cornmeal or flour for dusting the bread pans

Procedure:
1. Weigh and measure the ingredients. Warm the water. For details on yeast and measuring you can click this link. 
2. Combine the oil and water and eggs. Measure and combine the bread and all purpose flour
3. Pour the ancient grain blend and white whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the salt at one edge and cover with a bit of the flour and add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl.
5. Pour the water over the yeast and start the mixer on low speed.  If you are mixing the dough by hand, use a wooden spoon to start mixing the yeast/water into the flour.
6. Pour the oil/water/egg mixture into the bowl and continue to mix.
7. Add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and blend in at low speed or continue to mix with a large spoon. Continue to blend in the remaining flour and mix for 3-5 minutes until well blended and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
8. If you are mixing by hand you may need to turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in the final 10 oz of flour.  The dough will be firm, a  bit sticky and not particularly stretchy.
9. Pour 2 Tbsp of oil along the edges of the mixing bowl and turn the dough around so that the dough ball has a thin layer of oil all over it.
10. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours.
11. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes before working with the dough.
12. Deflate gently, turn several times and divide/shape. The dough will make 3 medium loaves, 2 large loaves or approximately 18 (2 oz) rolls. Click on this link to see several examples of bread shapes.  Prepare the pans by spraying with spray oil and sprinkling with cornmeal or flour
13. Mix the brown sugar, water and oatmeal to make a thick paste. Smear on the top of the bread. Let rise in a draft free spot (a slightly warm oven or a proofing box is perfect) for about 45 minutes.
15. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Load the bread into the hot oven, lower the heat to 360 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes. Check the bread after 30 minutes, the crust will be be dark and golden. Internal temperature, if you're inclined to use a thermometer, should be approximately 190- 195 degrees.  I like to very gently push on the top of the crust a bit to make sure the loaf "feels" done.
16. Cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before wrapping and storing. The bread should be double wrapped in plastic if you are freezing.  It will stay loosely covered at room temperature for 2 days.

Other interesting BreadandBabka challah recipes you might like to try include:
Pumpkin Apple Challah  , Challah Bread Pudding , or Challah with Za'atar and Apricots .