This year the first night of Hannukah falls on Thanksgiving. Since this is the only time this will occur in our lifetimes, there has been a ton of buzz about it in the food blog and news worlds. It happens to be a really cool opportunity to combine some of the favorite flavors of both holidays, which are naturally both very food focused. Challah is a bread that we traditionally have on Jewish holidays and cranberries just sing Thanksgiving, so I thought this would be a perfect combination.
To start my adventure, I consulted one of my culinary idols, Deb of Smitten Kitchen and also used some tips from Melissa Clark. I adapted Smitten Kitchen’s apple and honey challah recipe by swapping the apples for fresh cranberries. That’s right, no craisins in this recipe. The result permeated the house with the most wonderful, holiday aroma. Combined with your turkey on Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah as it has been referred to), you are bound to get everyone into the holiday spirit, no matter what you are celebrating.
Honey Cranberry Challah (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
What You’ll Need:
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp good quality honey
1/3 cup neutral oil, plus some to oil bowl
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp table salt
4 1/4 cups bread flour, plus some for work surface
1 cup of fresh cranberries
1 large egg for egg wash
mixer with hook attachment
parchment paper to work on
What You’ll Do:
1. Using the stand mixer bowl, whisk yeast and 1 tsp honey into 2/3 cup warm water until it gets foamy.
2. Add to the yeast mixture – oil (I used vegetable oil), 1/3 cup of honey, 2 eggs and the 1 egg yolk. As Deb notes here, if you measure the oil first, use the same measuring cup for the honey and it will easily slide out. Using the hook attachment to mix the dough, add the flour a little at a time as well as the salt. Mix until the ingredients are combined and the dough is sticky. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is elastic and bouncing back.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1-2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Here, I followed Melissa’s advice. Punch down the dough and allow to rise again, for another hour.
5. Wash the cranberries, pull off any lingering stems and dry them. If there are larger cranberries in the bunch, cut them in half. Once the dough has risen, on a floured surface, flatten it as much as possible into a circular shape. Add 2/3rds of the cranberries to one half of the dough and fold over. Then add the remaining 1/3 of the cranberries to half of the dough and fold over again. Reshape the dough into a round shape and divide into four sections as evenly as possible. Create long ropes with each of the four sections.
6. To braid the challah, I followed the directions in this tutorial video. I honestly think that just watching this is more helpful then trying to follow written directions!
7. Place the challah on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush again with egg wash before placing in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden on top. Cover with aluminum foil if the top begins to brown too quickly. At the 30 minute mark, I would closely monitor the challah to make sure the bottom isn’t getting burnt. You can also check to see if the bottom of the challah sounds hollow when tapped, as per Melissa’s recommendation.
And for your viewing pleasure, the process ~
Go ahead and serve it up with some honey to drizzle over the top.
And oh my….you will not regret adding this to your Thanksgiving/Thanksgivukkah menu.