Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Baking Class: Jessamyn's Sephardic Challah

I ran across this recipe for Sephardic Challah when I was looking for challah recipes.  I grew up with the sweetish, eggy Ashkenazi version and did not even know there was any other kind.  So when I saw it I knew I had to make it.

While I like a well-made Challah as much as the next person does, I must admit I was blown away with how good this version is.  The spices complement each other perfectly and each bite is loaded with flavor, but it is not so much that it overpowers anything you spread onto it.  While I am pretty good these days at rationing myself to one serving of bread a day (it's the only way I can justify making so much of it!), I must confess that I scarfed up several days' worth of servings the first time I made it.

It is easy to make and comes together quickly but the end result belies that simplicity.  This bread is delicious and sure to impress.  It makes fantastic toast and sandwiches for everyday use and will brighten up any occasion.

I adapted the recipe to my usual sourdough.  The original volume measurements are at the end of the ingredient list.

(As I was typing out the recipe I realized that I have not been shaping the bread according to the instructions.  I have been rolling the coil from one end to the other rather than starting in the middle.  It has had no affect on the taste but I am sure my loaves will look much better in the future.)
Home Cookin v9.70 Chapter: Breads and Muffins

Makes 2 small loaves
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1-1/2 tablespoons anise seeds
177 g starter
371 g water
519 g bread flour
2-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Cornmeal for dusting
2 large egg yolks

Volume amounts:
1 envelope(s) active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
5 cups bread flour

Toast the sesame, caraway and anise seeds in a small skillet over moderate heat until fragrant, about two minutes. Transfer the seeds to a plate and let cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture for topping the bread.

In a large mixing bowl combine the starter with the water and mix well. Add the olive oil, the honey, all but the reserved tablespoon of the seed mixture and the salt and stir everything together. Add the flour, a cup at a time, until the dough has formed into a soft ball and remove it from the bowl onto a floured sourface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is supple and smooth, adding additional flour as needed.

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise until the dough has doubled, about one hour.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surfce and deflate it. Cut it in half and let it rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each one into 32-inch ropes. Starting from the center, form each rope into a coil. Tuck the ends under the coils.

Transfer each coil to a baking sheet and cover each loaf with a large, inverted bowl. Let stand for 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of seeds.

Bake the loaves on the same shelf in the center of the oven for 30 about minutes, until they're golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before slicing.

adapted from

exported from Home Cookin v9.70 (

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