Citrus Challah bread highlights a wonderful traditional bread with a hint of orange flavor.
Challah Bread ranks up there as one of my favorite breads and one of the first bread recipes that I learned how to make successfully. There is something about getting your hands on a beautiful dough and forming it into your own masterpiece. In some crazy way, it’s a bit therapeutic. In addition, I love the tender texture and the delicious crust this bread presents after baking, definitely a practice of self-discipline from not cutting into that hot loaf upon removal of the oven. Oh so good!!!
There are many awesome recipes out there but I particularly love the ones that contain honey as it really contributes not only to the sweetness, but also to the fine texture of the bread. I like adding sugar and honey to the yeast to help in feeding the yeast to work to its full capacity.
Going one step further, I decided to add fresh orange zest to the dough and a touch of extract to really enhance the orange flavor. It makes for just a nice subtle flavor of this traditional bread loaf. Having a little fun, I decorating the top with colorful sugars to incorporate the citrus theme of the bread and to give it a fun presentation, it almost looks like those awesome pretzels covered in kosher salt you can get in the mall or ball park. Finally, this bread coupled with fresh butter and jam would be a wonderful way to spend breakfast for truly a memorable experience.
Citrus Challah Bread
A classic bread loaf enhanced with fresh orange zest and decorated with colorful sugars
In a small bowl, mix together with a whisk the yeast with the warm water, sugar, and honey. Allow to sit 5 minutes till bubbly and foamy. I find the water being about 110 is the perfect temperature for the yeast.
In a mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the flour, salt, and orange zest and mix well.
Add the eggs, oil, and extract to the yeast mixture and pour this mixture into the bowl with the flour. Mix on medium low till the flour is incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium and allow the dough to kneed till smooth, about 5-7 minutes.
Add small amounts of warm water or additional flour to get the dough to knead smoothly and for it not to be sticky.
Grease a bowl with cooking spray, and add the smooth dough. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and allow it to rise about an hour. I usually like to sit this on top of the stove, into a cooled oven, or in front of a sunny window.
Once risen, punch the dough down and let it rest 2-3 minutes. Take the dough and divide into 3 sections and roll into ropes about 12-15" long.
Place the tips of all the ropes together at the top of your table. Braid the ropes (just like a hair braid) until you reach the end of the dough. Press the pieces at the end together and tuck underneath the bread.
Place the braided dough on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Cover with a dry towel and allow it to rise at room temperature about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the egg with the water and mix well. Apply the egg wash evenly over the braided dough.
Sprinkle the colored sugars in sections across the top of the dough. Be creative and use whatever design you would like.
Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes till golden brown and the dough sounds hollow when you tap on it. Cool.
This bread is ideal the day it is baked but can be wrapped tightly with saran wrap and placed in a freezer bag and frozen for 1-3 months.
This is an absolutely wonderful bread for french toast and open faced sandwiches, a nice spread of Nutella would also be equally as great.