I've been thinking about making a latke challah for a while, and wondering how to do it. I did find one online discussion of it, but the end result was more everything bagel. Now, I love my latkes BURNT. Crispy. And soft in the middle. How could I attempt this? Ultimately, I decided on a pre-baked crispy topping plus potatoes inside the loaf. Here's the result... LATKE CHALLAH!'
3/4 c hot but not boiling water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
2 eggs plus 1 more for egg wash
scant 1/4 c vegetable oil
3 c flour + about 1 additional cup
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder plus a little more for sprinkling
1 russet potato
1 large shallot or small onion (I used a shallot, because that's what I had)
Proof the yeast in the hot water with the honey. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, use a food processor on the shred setting (you could also do this by hand) on the onion and potato. Don't bother peeling the potato; just wash it :)
The next step is REALLY important. As you probably know from making latkes or kugel, you MUST squeeze out as much water from the potatoes as possible. I usually just use paper towel or a clean flour sack cloth (that then goes straight in the wash!). Mix together the eggs with the about three-quarters of the potato/onion mixture with the salt and the garlic powder. Leave the rest of the potato/onion mixture aside for now.
Mix together this mixture with the yeast. Add the oil and the flour. You will most likely need about a cup more of flour just to get the dough manageable. It will still be a bit sticky. I usually use a stand mixer, but you can always does this by hand. Let rest in an oiled bowl for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until about doubled in bulk.
While the dough is rising, make the topping. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the rest of the potatoes and onions on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. I was feeling lazy and just sprayed the whole shebang with some PAM, but you could also just drizzle with a healthier oil (they ARE latkes though). Sprinkle with garlic powder and bake for 10-15 minutes or until beginning to brown. Let cool.
Turn down the oven to 350. Braid as normal (I suggest a three-stranded braid). Let rest about 20 minutes. Egg wash. Press (quite hardly) the crisped potato topping into the loaves. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, checking halfway and covering with foil if the potato topping gets too brown.
Now, it's no latke. But it has the flavors of latkes. Which are one of the best things ever.
(An Early) Hag Urim Same'ah to you! May this Hanukkah bring light into your lives!