Take Me Out To The Ball Game!
No matter where you are in the United States, summer time means one thing… It’s baseball season! There is nothing that compares to walking into a baseball stadium, grabbing a hot dog and some peanuts and watching the game.
Some of my earliest memories are walking into Wrigley Field and hearing the roar of the crowd and the organ music blasting through the stadium. The energy is electric. There is truly no baseball stadium that even comes close to the feeling you get at Wrigley.
Now, you may be asking yourself, if I am Cubs fan why does the challah have a Dodgers cap? After moving to LA, it was hard to find people who would go to baseball games with me. Dodgers fans tend to arrive at the ball park in the third inning and leave in the seventh, whereas Cubs fans arrive an hour before the game and stay an hour after. Then, I found my perfect baseball buddy! A new friend from work whose mother was from Chicago and truly understands the love of baseball I was brought up with. Anne and I quickly became good friends, aided by nights at Dodger Stadium, Dodger dogs, and garlic fries.
I cannot wait for the day when we are once again able to return to Dodger Stadium (hopefully to see the Cubs beat the Dodgers) and watch America’s pastime once again!
4 ½ Teaspoons instant yeast (2 packets of active dry yeast works too but I have found instant yeast results in a fluffier texture)
1 Cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup margarine, melted
7 cups all-purpose flour ( I typically use anywhere from 6-8 cups of flour depending on the temperature and humidity outside)
1 Cup Peanuts
1 Cup Caramel Corn
½ Cup butter (or margarine)
1 Cup brown sugar
Make the filling by melting one stick (½ cup butter) in a saucepan. Once the butter melted whisk in 1 cup brown sugar. Let the mixture come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let mixture boil for about ten minutes. Take off heat and add peanuts (you can toast them if you’d like) and caramel corn. Turn out onto a silicone baking sheet and let cool overnight.
Whisk eggs, salt, ½ cup margarine, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 cups warm water, and yeast in a large bowl.
Add the beaten eggs and flour one cup at a time. 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. While the dough is proving, crush up the brittle that has cooled overnight for the filling.
Once proofed, turn the dough onto a floured surface and cut into 4 equal portions, leaving a little bit to shape the stripes on the baseball.
Roll each portion into a long rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the rectangle leaving about ⅓ inch on every side. Tightly roll the rectangle so that it creates a long rope and pinch the seam tightly so that it does not explode in the oven. Repeat for each of the other portions of dough.
To create a round challah, lay two ropes of dough parallel to each other and weave the other two strands in perpendicularly. Take each of the strands that starts out under a piece of dough and place it over the rope of dough to it’s left. Continue until there is no dough left and tuck the edges under the loaf.
Once the loaf is braided, roll the extra dough (you laid aside when braiding the dough) into a thin strip and place on top of the loaf to create the stripes of the baseball. Paint the stripes with watered down red food coloring.
Preheat oven to 325 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 15 minutes, then increase the temperature to 425 degrees. (Keep an eye on the loaves once you up the temperature, you may have to cover them with tinfoil if the tops start to get too dark.)
Continue baking for another 15-20 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.
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.