Chocolate and Pistachio Marble Challah,
May 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Breads, Daring Bakers, Giveaway, Yeastspotting | 623 Comments
plus my 4-Year Blogiversary Giveaway! Giveaway Closed
Tags: Challah, Chocolate challah, Cocoa, eggs, KitchenAid Stand Mixer Giveaway, pistachio challah, pistachio paste
UPDATE: This KA Stand Mixer Giveaway has been extended to June 8th, 2012, so you have 1 more day to get your entries in!
I hate humidity. I hate muggy. I don’t hate it because it makes me feel sluggish, sticky and sweaty. I don’t hate it because it transforms my hair into a limp, Medusa like ‘do’ of curly rat tails. I hate it because it affects my baking. I’ve complained about this many summers on this blog – this blog that is now officially 4 years old today! OK..now that I got that over with, back to my kvetching.
Humidity can really affect bread baking – especially if you want to braid or knot loaves or rolls. You add the amount of flour approximated in the recipe, plus a little more, going by feel as you knead, which is usually the norm. When its humid, you keep adding flour, and the stickiness resurrects with each fold and push. The moisture in the air transfers to the dough, which absorbs cup after cup after cup of flour..and it seems to melt into the never-ending moisture..as if you barely added any flour at all. THEN, when you shape the bread, and set it aside to rise..it spreads like a soaking mop across a fried chicken joint floor, obliterating any shape you created..and you can forget about oven spring. Humidity is the succubus of dough.
Of course a wave of humidity hit, and is still going strong as I type this, right when I decided to create and bake my challah for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge.
May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
I decided to make two flavored doughs along with the basic honey white challah recipe Ruth provided us with, using that basic honey white recipe for the two flavored doughs. I split the recipe in half. I kept one half white, then boiled water and stirred in 3 tablespoons dark cocoa for a chocolate dough, let it cool to tepid, then continued on with the recipe as written.
I now had a basic white challah dough, and a chocolate challah dough, in which I kneaded about 1 cup of grated dark chocolate into before letting it rise. For the pistachio dough, I made half the recipe, adding about 2 tablespoons pistachio paste to the boiling water plus a drop of green food gel color..letting it come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
I was stoked, but, after all the risings, I realized that all 3 of the doughs were way too tacky. I started adding flour to each batch again, kneading, then more flour, kneading, then more. I finally reached a point where I felt all three doughs could be braided and twisted into a cool knot I was thinking of, since there was probably enough dough for three large challahs.
At this point I didn’t care about a tough loaf of challah, I just wanted it to look pretty, dammit! This goes against every cooking, baking, blogging rule I hold near and dear ..but I didn’t give a sheeet. Humidity also affects my mood. Not in a good way.
I started with the twisty knot and covered it to rise. When I returned an hour later, it had spread, but even worse, the three doughs had amalgamated into one freakin’ ball of mosaic! No high twisty bumps, no distinct ropes of dough, just a flat, mosaic boule – as you can see above and below.
Sooo..I decided to add more flour and try some braids with the remaining doughs, using this 6-strand method, my favorite, alternating the green, brown and white doughs. Within 15 minutes the damn braids were already starting to flatten and spread.
Eff you, humidity! Why must you seep through the walls no matter how high I crank the AC??
When an hour was up..I had two 6-strand braids that looked like this..
LOVE the sinkhole in the middle! I knew they were going to bake up flat, no pretty braids here.
Obviously, I couldn’t separate them back into three colored doughs, so I cursed up a storm, as if my foul mouth might perform magic on them, turning them into perfectly separated, braid worthy doughs. Nope, didn’t work. I dumped both flat braids into an oiled bowl and let it chill in the fridge overnight – not even a modicum of an idea of what I was going to do with this mess.
When I got home the next night, this is what I was greeted with…
Just as I was about to give up and surrender to another boule, an idea struck. Thank you, baby jeebus.
Remember those tubes of multi-colored plastic goo, from the early 80′s, where you would put a glob on the end of a straw and blow it into a funky, psychedelic balloon? It smelled like carcinogens, and was probably akin to breathing in lead paint, but it was fun. OK, I just looked it up – my search term ‘blow goo on straw’; Super Elastic Bubble Plastic by Wham-O!
I was going to divide this lump of Super Wet Elastic Boule Doughtastic into 12 pieces, each piece a swirl of all three colors, like a glob of Super Elastic Bubble Plastic, roll them into ropes, then braid them together and pray.
Hmmm..this braid was looking ok – only the ends ’melded’ into globs and lost the braiding – turning mosaic, but it had not flattened within 15 minutes – good sign.
When it was fully risen, it was nowhere near as bad as the first two, but I knew I wasn’t getting my usual, high, humpy, tight braids. One turned out pretty flat. One held some humps and looked ok, and that’s the one I photographed. I had to slice it because I couldn’t fit the whole challah in my measly little Lowel Ego Light space. Surprisingly, they weren’t tough at all – I think the humidity played a role in that too. At least it was good for something.
Enough cannot be said about climate controlled kitchens. I will have one – one day, when I hit the lottery.
Now, because of the humidity gremlin causing dough havoc, I can’t give you an exact recipe (although I did explain what I did in the 5th and 6th paragraphs – and I’ll explain again briefly), but, I can tell you to add dark cocoa to the amount of water in your favorite challah recipe (boil the water first, then let cool before continuing), and knead a bunch of grated dark chocolate into the dough, for a chocolate dough.
For a pistachio dough, make or buy pistachio paste, add a couple of tablespoons into the amount of water listed in your recipe, but boiled or very hot. Add a bit of green food color, if desired. Like for the chocolate dough, let the water cool, then go ahead with your recipe. I sprinkled turbinado sugar, after egg washing the dough, on top of two of the loaves.
If you’d like the recipes Ruth provided for the Daring Bakers Challenge, which includes the one I used for my Super Elastic Bubble Plastic challahs, CLICK HERE. If you’d like to see some gorgeous, braided challahs that didn’t flatten, click on the links to other Daring Baker’s blogs, HERE.
Now to the Giveaway. It’s a Giveaway you see all over the blogosphere, but in this case, it’s from ME to YOU..no one else involved, to say thank you for a great 4 years.
Photo from Amazon.com
It’s a KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer - your choice of color. To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment. For three extra entries you can.. 1. Follow me on Twitter @parsleynsage 2. Tweet this giveaway – I just entered to win a Kitchen Aid 6 -Quart Stand Mixer at http://bit.ly/KztFYz . Leave a comment to enter. Ends June 4th, 2012. June 8, 2012. 3. Like or share this giveaway on Facebook. Leave a separate comment for each of the three bonus entries you do.
Finally, Bad boy First Love Part 12 is coming in my next post. I need to be in a certain zone to write it, and that zone has been a bit elusive lately.
Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend!