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No-frills challah is a wonderful thing, passed around the table and pulled into feathery, haphazard chunks before the meal even starts (with any spared pieces becoming French toasted the next day).
But over on our (Not)Recipes app, Rachael Strecher looked to Smitten Kitchen's Fig and Sea Salt Challah to give her weekly loaf a seasonal adaptation. (Friendly reminder that you can add links—to a source of inspiration, to a smart tip—right inside your (Not)Recipe posts.)
Pesto Challah--a stroke of inspiration lead me to Summerize our weekly challah. Check out Smitten Kitchen's fig and sea salt Rosh Hashanah Challah for the technique. Make your dough (whatever is your favorite) and roll out the "strands", spreading pesto and then rolling it up. I mixed normal pesto with our garlic scape pesto. Braid as usual and brush with an egg before baking.. This was a winner.
In Deb's recipe, she divides the dough into quarters. Before shaping them into logs, she flattens them into rectangles and spreads them with a homemade fig filling. Then, she rolls them up into snakes before looping and twisting them into an impressive round loaf. (I can tell you from personal experience that the process is messy—fig jam everywhere—but well worth it, each slice striated with pockets of sweet jam.)
Rachael made the recipe weekday- and spring-appropriate by smearing the dough rectangles with garlic scape pesto and shaping them into a more casual three-braid.
Rachael's ingenuity has us brainstorming other seasonal fillings for challah (or other enriched, braided loaves):
- In the fall, apple-cinnamon compote or pumpkin butter
- In the winter, cranberry relish? dulce de leche? Speculoos? pistachios and date syrup?
- For spring, zucchini butter or a compound butter green with herbs (!) or a thick roasted strawberry jam
- In summer, peach purée, plum caramel, roasted tomato jam.
Just make sure that your filling is on the viscous side of the thick to runny spectrum: You don't want it leaking and dripping all over the place in the oven.