Mado’s Basic Challah Dough
It’s basic because you can use it in various ways, from cardamom to cinnamon to hamburger buns to challah loaves yet it veers from the norm with the addition of whole wheat flour and the development of a sponge starter, first.
2 cups warm milk
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup liquid honey
2 cups organic, unbleached all purpose flour (I like President’s Choice)
1 cup Red Fife or whole wheat flour
1 tsp instant yeast
In the bowl of a large KitchenAid mixer, using the whisk attachment, combine milk, oil, honey and eggs until smooth. Add flours and yeast and mix until combined, using the paddle attachment. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for two hours until the mixture is bubbly and puffing up about 20 per cent. (With a little imagination, the surface should look like a sponge.) If desired, you can make the sponge ahead and store in the fridge up to one day in advance.
3-4 cups organic, unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
Remove wrap and add 3 cups of the flour to the bowl and salt. Using the dough hook, mix the flour for about 6 minutes at med-low speed, gradually adding more flour, tablespoon by tablespoon until the dough no longer pools at the bottom of the bowl and gathers around the dough hook. Transfer the dough to an oiled, large bowl or dough container, cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours or until doubled. Make the filling
1 stick room temperature unsalted butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cardamom
In a small bowl, mash the butter, sugar and cardamom until smooth. Once the dough has finished its first, two-hour rise, transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape into a loose ball and leave to rest 5 min.
Dust with flour and roll out to a 24 in x 24 in square. Spread the filling evenly over rolled out dough, then fold in half, pulling the far edge toward you to cover the butter mixture.
Cut two thin (1/4 in) slices of the dough, gently twist together and lengthen like a rope then knot. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Repeat.
Preheat oven to 400F and let rise, covered with a tea towel or oiled plastic wrap for 45 min.
Baste with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse or pearl sugar. Bake for 15-18 min, or until golden brown, turning baking sheets halfway through the bake.
© 2014 Madeleine Greey