The Stuff(ing) of Dreams
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Walking into my grandma’s kitchen and smelling the roasting turkey, while sneaking a taste of the stuffing when no one is looking. The house is filled with a warmth (and only once was it because the flue was closed on the fireplace!) and a cheer that can only mean it’s the start of the holiday season.
This year, as so many of you will be, I will be spending the holidays away from my family. I thought this would be a great time to experiment with holiday flavors in untraditional ways. So, I present to you my stuffing flavored challah!
4 ½ 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
2 Large eggs, beaten
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
½ Cup brown butter
2 Cups warmed vegetable broth
1 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
7 Cups all-purpose flour ( I typically use anywhere from 6-8 cups of flour depending on the temperature and humidity outside)
To brown the butter, place it in a sauce pan over LOW heat. The butter will crack and pop. When the noise subsides, check the butter. If you see milk solids on the bottom of the pan and it has a nutty smell to it, it is ready to go!
Chop the herbs and add them to the brown butter.
Whisk eggs, salt, ½ cup brown butter and herb mixture, ¼ cup sugar, yeast, and 2 cups of warmed vegetable broth in a large bowl.
Add the flour one cup at a time to yeast mixture. 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. Keep three portions out and place three back into the bowl. Shape each of the three portions into a long rope. Using your palm, press the three ropes together at the top and begin to braid the dough. Once finished braiding, tuck each of the ends under to create a more finished/clean look. Do the same with the remaining three pieces of dough. Let proof for another 30 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 20 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 5-8 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.