Monday, March 8, 2010

Cranberry Almond Challah

I've been thinking about making challah for a while now, craving a fluffy, warm piece from the oven.  It's been so long since I've had yeasty bread that I had forgotten how comforting the smell of bread baking is.  I have not been able to find potato starch in town lately, so I substituted a combination of cornstarch and tapioca starch, and all that was left was to add the cranberries and slivered almonds to the batter.  It turned out beautifully!

Cranberry Almond Challah Bread

2 1/4 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup potato starch (or subsitute 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup tapioca starch)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
1 tbsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. dry potato flakes (I didn't have any on hand, and the bread was fine without them)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
4 eggs + 1 extra egg yolk (at room temperature is best)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for glaze
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
Baking spray / vegetable oil spray

Mix the yeast, warm water, and sugar and place in a slightly warmed oven, covered with foil, for 10 minutes until it has bubbled to the top.

In a large bowl, combine corn starch, brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, dry potato flakes, and xanthan gum. Add the vegetable oil, honey, eggs, and yeast mixture and mix at high speed until it is all well-mixed. Add the cranberries and slivered almonds and blend in by hand until they are well-dispersed.
Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray. Grease your hands by spraying them well with baking spray as well, and then take large portions of the dough and shape them into large balls of dough (about 3-4 inches in diameter) - I had enough for about 6 - 7 balls - and arrange them in the pan with one in the middle. You don't need to press them together. Make the egg glaze by combining one egg yolk and 1 tbsp. water, and brush over the top of the dough. Spray a piece of plastic wrap and cover the pan, and put it into the still-warm oven to rise. Let rise until the dough is about an inch above the top of the pan, then remove from the oven and preheat it to 350 F. Brush another coat of egg glaze onto the dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for another 25 minutes. If desired, remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking to let it brown a bit more. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 - 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to continue to cool. Serve warm from the oven if possible! Freeze or refrigerate extra slices.

Serve warm from the oven, or toasted.  Drizzle with honey and enjoy!

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