I encountered my first baking challenge this past Rosh Hashanah. I had already decided to make an apple cake and apple pie for my cousin’s Rosh Hashanah dinner when they emailed and said in the event I was feeling adventurous here was an amazing chocolate chip challah recipe from a family friend of theirs. The light bulb went off…I certainly couldn’t pass this up.
I had never made any type of bread from scratch before, let alone challah. The thought of using yeast, sitting around while letting the dough rise, and then attempting to braid several strands of soft dough didn’t sound like much fun. I had to look up what proofing yeast meant and I also searched for a video on how to braid the challah.
I was patient and carefully followed the recipe. I watched the braiding video over and over and over again and after a few hours of work I smelled the sweetness of chocolate coming from my kitchen and took my first challah out of the oven. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I succeeded at making my first challah and it didn’t look like a novice loaf- it really could have sat on the shelf at Trader Joes.
Chocolate Chip Challah
2 packages of dry yeast (not rapid rise)
1 3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs. salt
1/4 cup melted butter
7 cups flour
4 large eggs beaten
1 bag 12 oz. chocolate chips
1 egg (for egg wash)
*Makes two large loaves. You can also cut the recipe in half and make one large loaf or two small loaves.
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and proof. When frothy add salt and margarine. Then beat in 3 cups of flour, eggs, and chocolate chips. Add in the remaining flour up to 4 cups and knead with hands until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with a moist cloth. Let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Punch down. Divide into two halves and then divide each half in six. Braid each half. Place on separate cookie sheets. Brush with slightly beaten egg. Cover and let rise about 30 minutes more. Brush again with the egg wash for extra browness. Bake in 350 degree F oven until brown, about 35-40 minutes.