The last time I talked about challah, I think I pretty much said that the recipe from Baking with Julia is the best one ever. I am not here to contradict myself or state that I have changed my mind, but every once in awhile, I try a new recipe. Just for fun, you know. Or curiosity. I have made other challah recipes and, while they are all good (how bad can a challah really be?), I always go back to my favorite.
This recipe has a couple of things going for it. Firstly, I was attracted to the new shaping. Doesn’t it look beautiful? It uses a 4 strand braiding technique that I have never seen before. Click on the link to the recipe above to see Deb’s wonderful step-by step photos. Trying this new technique would have been reason enough for me to make this recipe, but there was another equally compelling thing. The recipe instructs you to make a figgy paste to layer into the dough, and my little brain immediately identified this as a chance to use some fig jam that I had put up last year. Any recipe that helps me to get through my jam larder is enough to make me run to the kitchen and start cooking or baking.
I have no pictures of the actual shaping and assembly. Let’s just say it was a bit sticky and my jam burst forth in a few places. The dough felt a bit slack and I worried that it really wouldn’t turn out. In fact, it is absolutely delicious. We had it for dessert the night I baked it, and we have had it for breakfast all week. It is good just warm out of the oven and slightly dry and three days old. Frankly, I am surprised that I like this challah as much as I do. It has the added advantage of being dairy free, for those who have that dietary restriction. The fig jam makes it a kind of a giant, soft, and eggy fig newton, but I think it would be equally good with other jams, which I am most definitely going to try. I am thinking it will be especially good with apple butter or even berry jam.
I don’t think I can really say that this is my new favorite. It is really a very different challah than the other one, having the jam and olive oil and all, but it is definitely going to make its way into my regular baking rotation. Besides, I need some more practice with that new shaping technique, and I still have quite a large jam collection to go through.