Your kitchen will be filled with most beautiful aromas as this bakes.
Makes: 1 very large challah
500g strong white bread flour plus flour to knead
40g caster sugar
10g fast active yeast
40g sunflower oil
1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp orange essence
300ml warm water
I tsp ground cardamon
100g dark chocolate broken into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with a little water (for egg wash)
● In a large bowl mix the flour and sugar. Add the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Make a well in the flour.
● Beat the oil, the egg and yolk, the orange zest and essence and pour into the well. Add two thirds of the water and mix to form a sticky dough, adding the rest of the water gradually if the mixture seems dry. If it is too wet add a little more flour.
● Lightly flour the counter and start to knead the dough, stretching it and bringing it back towards you.
● Knead well by hand for at least eight minutes until the dough is silky smooth and elastic.
● Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for up to 40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
● Tip onto counter and gently flatten with your hands. Now sprinkle on the cardamon and chocolate pieces. Knead them into the dough, folding it over repeatedly and pressing down so the chocolate and spice are well distributed.
● Return the dough to the bowl and cover for a further 10 minutes.
● Now divide it into 3 equal pieces (weigh them if you like) and let them rest for 10 minutes.
● Oil the counter lightly and using a rolling pin roll out three long strips. Roll each strip into a smooth rope tapering slightly at each end.
● Join the three ropes at one end and make a plait which should be tighter at the ends and looser in the middle. Leave as a long loaf or twist the plait into a circle.
● Place on a parchment covered tray, cover and leave in a warm place for a further 40 minutes or until almost doubled in size while you preheat your oven to 200°C.
● Carefully brush with egg wash and bake in the centre of the oven for about half an hour. Your challah will be a glossy dark golden brown but do check the underside is also browned and baked well.
● Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Tami Isaacs Pearce is a baker and the owner of Karma Bread, 13 South End Road, London NW3 2PT