Today's recipe is The Challah Blog's very first GUEST RECIPE! The following recipe is brought to you by Rabbi Leigh Ann Kopans of The Frugal Ima (whose Jalapeno Bread recipe we sampled a few weeks ago). Leigh Ann has really great, time saving, money-smart recipes on her blog along with other wonderful thoughts on Jewish living and making our homes meaningful places for our families and ourselves.
Blueberry challah - For challah bakers and seasonal produce obsessors, blueberry challah is like that beautiful new girl in school who shows up just when things were getting too boring to take anymore. It’s the new mixed with the same old thing. The two belong together. It’s all you think about. It looks so beautiful, and smells so sweet. In your head, that is. You must bake this challah. You can’t resist.
But here’s the thing - Blueberry challah is like a pair of star-crossed lovers – it can’t win. It’s impossible. Add juicy fresh berries to a dough that already stands precariously at the edge of being too sticky? Especially in the summertime, just when the blueberries are in season, and the humidity weekly threatens every Jewish baker with turning their challot into a sweating, melting pile of eggy goo?
But channel Edward, friends. Attempt the impossible, and all your friends will be impressed that you were able to hold out long enough when you finally, finally, win your prize.
Make your regular challah dough, a bit drier than usual. (Amanda’s recipe on this site is great, and pretty close to what I used.) The higher the ratio of oil to water, the better – it will keep the dough from sticking to the work surface and aid in your stranding.
Just before your dough is ready, knead in some FROZEN blueberries. Add a little more flour as you’re doing that to counter the condensation from the thawing blueberries, just enough so you can handle the dough without it sticking all over you. Generously oil your proofing bowl, and plop your dough in there. Give it a turn so the ball is coated. (I don’t have photos of these steps because honestly, I did not have much faith that this challah would make it to a braid.)
When it’s almost doubled in bulk, you can start to strand. This is a sticky dough. Lightly flour your work surface – too much flour will just make your snakes skate around sadly, and will cause you to push too hard.
Now, channel Edward again, friends. If you push too hard when rolling the strands, it will cause the blueberries to break. They are beautiful, but they are delicate, and the only way you will get to enjoy them later is if YOU DON’T BREAK THEM NOW. (Like Bella. See?)
Before you braid, dust each strand with flour, so that they don’t stick together when you braid them tightly.
When you beat up your eggwash, add some vanilla and brown sugar. It’s no secret everyone wants to eat this challah, why not sweeten it up even more?
But thing about this challah is? Once you finally, ecstatically, bite into it…it’s really nothing to write home about. It’s still beautiful, even more beautiful than before it was baked. Certainly, there’s nothing WRONG with it. But it’s kind of bland, with not much real character to differentiate it from other challot - a Mary Sue, if you will. (Yes. I even crack myself up.) And that’s why I’m calling this “Bella Cullen Blueberry Challah.”
Shabbat Shalom and happy summer from the Kopans Bayit to you!