Honey tahini challah

October  1, 2016
0 Ratings
Photo by Silvia Merler
  • Makes 1 big loaf
Author Notes

And then came October, and with October came the rain. It has been raining and gloomy -grey for the whole week, in Washington DC. This weather reminds me very much of the spleen of the Belgian autumns I lived through during my years in Brussels. It’s has a special melancholic beauty, if you look at it from the inside of a warm living room while baking. This is currently my favourite go-to challah recipe. I add a poolish, which takes some additional time but really pays off in terms of softness and lightness of the crumb and crust, and I also add tahini in the dough and brushing, which yields a nice balanced flavour. —Silvia Merler

What You'll Need
  • Poolish
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • Main dugh
  • the poolish
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey + 1 teaspoon for brush
  • 1-2 tablespoons tahini (to taste) + 1 teaspoon for brush
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk or water to brush
  1. Start by making the poolish in advance: mix together 1 cup each of water and flour with 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours or in the fridge overnight. You should see an increase in the dough and the formation of air pockets.
  2. When the poolish is ready, pour 3/4 cup of water into a small mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it bubbles and dissolve. Then add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Measure 3 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl and add the poolish. In a smaller bowl beat the two eggs with oil, honey, tahini and salt, then add the water and yeast mixture and stir. Add to the dry ingredients and knead well (manually or with a stand mixer) for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Put the dough into a large bowl greased with oil, and let it rest in a warm place for 2.5-3 hours.
  5. After this time has passed, gently scrape the dough out of the bowl and shape it. I normally shape it in a traditional 4 or 6-ropes braid, although this time I wanted to try a round shape. Let the shaped loaf rest for another hour.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). When you are ready to bake, stir together 3 tablespoons of warm water or milk with 1 teaspoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon tahini, until dissolved. Brush the loaf with this mixture and sprinkle some poppy or sesame seeds on top. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. {Note: if you are maintaining a sourdough starter, you can use it as part of the poolish. If your starter has 100% hydration, which means it has been fed with the same amount of flour and water, then weight the amount of starter that you want to put in the poolish and reduce the amount of flour and water called for here by half the amount of the starter you are including. For example, if you wish to use 100g of your starter in the poolish, you should add just 50g each of water and flour, to make the poolish. Do not alter the amount of active dried yeast called for (which is anyway small).}

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