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Pico De Challah

Pico de Gallo is a staple in our household. Noah’s favorite cuisine is any form of Mexican food and his favorite part of Mexican food is the salsa. Seriously, he judges how good the restaurant is solely based on the salsa. We have one place that is our favorite Mexican restaurant of all time, down in San Diego and I swear it is Noah’s favorite purely because he could (and has) eaten a quart of their salsa.

This challah passed Noah’s salsa test with flying colors! It’s a tomato dough with onion and jalapeno pieces throughout. (You can make it spicier by including the seeds of the jalapeno but I’m a wimp when it comes to spices.)

3 Teaspoons instant yeast (2 packets of active dry yeast works too but I have found instant yeast results in a fluffier texture)

¼ Cup sugar

1 large egg, beaten

1 Teaspoon kosher salt

¼ Cup butter (melted)

2 Teaspoons ground pepper

½ Cup Tomato Sauce

½ Cup warm water

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Teaspoon white vinegar

1 Jalapeno, diced

½ Onion, diced

3-4 Cups flour ( I typically use anywhere from 6-8 cups of flour depending on the temperature and humidity outside)

Saute onion and jalapeno over medium heat until soft. Let cool.

Whisk egg, salt, melted butter, water, ground pepper, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, and yeast in a large bowl.

Add the flour one cup at a time to yeast mixture. Once about half of the flour is mixed in add the onion and jalapeno. Continue adding the rest of the flour. Using a strong spatula to mix at the beginning and using your hands to mix once it gets too difficult with the spatula.

Once the dough is fully mixed, turn onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes. (If you don’t knead the dough well enough, the challah will not hold its shape when it is braided.)

Grease a large bowl with spray oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and put in the oven to proof. (Make sure the oven is off!) Proof until the dough is doubled in size about 45 minutes-1 hour.

Once proofed, turn the dough onto a floured surface and cut into 6 equal portions. Roll all 6 portions into equal length logs. Place two strands together to create 3 double strands. Braid together and form into a circle around a ramekin. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let proof again for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating beat one egg with a splash of water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the top of the loaves. Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes.

NOTES: Do not try to slice the bread right when it comes out of the oven. If you are storing the bread to eat later, make sure it is fully cooled before you put it into any kind of container or it will create condensation that will lead to mold.

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