This is the third and final post in what has become an unintentional series dedicated to spaghetti night. I just couldn’t leave you with a nest of fresh pasta and not give you my favorite spaghetti sauce recipe and I can’t leave you with a plate of tomato sauce without a delicious loaf of garlicky challah bread to sop it all up.
So here we are, part III. This may or may not be my favorite part. Because truthfully, while this Garlic Challah Bread is the ultimate spaghetti companion, I can think of 100 other delicious ways to eat it without even trying.
It’s soft and dense all at once, with little pockets of roasted garlic threaded throughout, making it the perfect bread to join a bowl of pasta or soup. It can be pulled apart at the table or sliced thick for sandwiches. I can’t even begin to tell you how good it is with a smear of dijon mustard and a few slices of pastrami - or better yet - as a grilled cheese! Savory french toast, garlic challah bagels - the list goes on and on.
And not to mention, it’s not too hard on the eyes, making it a fun way to spice up an otherwise ordinary meal.
There are lots of ways to make and braid challah bread, but I find a traditional three-piece braid to be easier and I actually prefer the look of it. Feel free to use this recipe as a basis to experiment and explore (garlic challah knots would be tasty too!).
Garlic Challah Bread
for the filling and topping:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, sliced
- Egg white (or 1 whole egg) for the egg wash
- 1-2 tsp. chopped garlic (optional)
for the dough:
- 2 teaspoons active yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Make the dough
First, test the yeast to make sure it is still active. Fill a measuring cup with 1 cup warm water, add the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve and let stand until you see a thin frothy layer form on the top and the active yeast begin to rise to the surface. This should take anywhere from 4 - 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl if kneading by hand). Then, make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the eggs, egg yolk and oil. Whisk the eggs and oil together and pull in a little bit of flour from the sides of the bowl to create a slurry. Next, pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry and use a wooden spoon to mix the yeast, eggs and flour until a rough, shaggy dough is formed.
Knead the dough
If using a standing mixer, use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough on low for about 6 to 7 minutes. If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a sprinkle of flour. The dough is finished kneading when it’s soft and smooth.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set somewhere warm and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours or until it’s doubled in bulk.
Make the filling
While the dough is rising, make the filling. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and the sliced garlic to a skillet. Sauté the garlic on medium low for about 10 minutes until it starts to turn golden. Then, pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Braid and Bake
Once the dough has risen, separate into three equal pieces. Using a lightly floured workspace, roll each piece of dough out to form a rectangle. Then, using a spoon or brush, spread a bit of the garlic and olive oil mixture on the dough leaving about an inch around the edges.
Next, roll the dough up lengthwise. Then, using your hands, pinch the ends together and gently form the dough into a long rope, about 16 inches long and 1 inch thick. This part can get a little messy, but it’s okay if you end up getting olive oil on the outside of the dough - yummy!
Once all three strands are filled and rolled, place them all on a work surface and squeeze them together at the top. Braid the ropes together and then squeeze the ends together at the bottom. Tuck both the top and bottom ends underneath to form a rounded loaf.
Place the challah loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle with a little flour and cover with a clean dishcloth. Let rise for about 30 minutes or until it gets puffy.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the challah loaf has finished rising, brush it with the reserved egg white or, if you want it to be really golden, beat 1 whole egg with a dash of water and brush the challah loaf with the mixture. Be sure to get down in the cracks and brush the side of the loaf as well. Lastly, sprinkle 1 - 2 tsp. of fresh chopped garlic on the loaf.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The challah is done when it’s deeply browned. Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack. Slice, eat and enjoy!!