Challah, a traditional Jewish egg bread, is one of my favorite breads to make. Not only does it make the most amazing French toast for the next day, the loaves can be formed in various shapes and braids which look impressive and beautiful.
The following recipe is anything but traditional. The addition of mashed sweet potatoes resulted in a super tender loaf and a slightly orange hue. Butter instead of oil added a richer flavor that complemented the sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Challah
adapted from Challah I by Joan Callaway
makes 2 braided loaves
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
2 teaspoons salt
4-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
egg wash, (1 beaten egg plus 1 tablespoon water)
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix in honey, butter, egg and yolks, mashed sweet potatoes and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.
Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Form dough into desired shapes. I formed mine into 6 strand braids.
Please refer to this wonderful YouTube tutorial ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22p3wIHLupc) which shows you how to form a 6 strand braid challah.
Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C). Beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush a generous amount over each braid.
Bake at 350 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 25 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.
Serve warm...with lots of butter.