Baking Fun: Charcoal Challah

Baking Fun: Charcoal Challah

Hey everyone! Happy New year. Today we are going to make a bread called Challah (Pronounced KHOL-leh, with a German or Scottish kh). This moist dough from heaven is one of the prettiest out there, with its braided style loaf and golden egg washed top. This bread recipe is a bit different, because of the activated charcoal it’s black. Now I’m not going to go on a rant about how good charcoal is for you because at this point everyone is talking about it. We in the Caribbean have been using it for years. So, this isn’t anything new to me. I chose Black bread because it’s an interesting colour also I’m obsessed with the colour black.
Before you attempt to make this bread, I advise you have a kitchen aid or else you are going be kneading dough for about 20 minutes by hand. If you do end up doing that, I can safely say you will get one hell of a workout done on your triceps.


Santa was nice this year and I got a nice 4.5 QT Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer along with a new William Sonoma Baking sheet pan. I decided to test out my new toys earlier this week and boy did I have fun. 

Let’s get to baking!

Yield: 1, Five Braid Loaf of Bread
Weight: 2 lbs.

  • 21.05 oz. Bread Flour
  • 0.30 oz. Instant Yeast   
  • 8 fl oz. Water
  • 3.7 oz. Egg Yolk
  • 2.08 oz Vegetable Oil
  • 2.05 oz. Brown Sugar
  • 0.450 oz. Salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Activated Food Grade Charcoal

Eggwash

  • 2 Egg yolks
  • ¼ Cup Milk
  • Pinch of Salt

Proof temp @ 22-30C
Bake @176C/350F   25-30 mins

Combine flour and yeast together and reserve in a bowl. Pour all the other ingredients into the mixing bowl. Start mixing on a low speed to incorporate charcoal into mixture.

Once all ingredients are properly mixed together, add flour mix in parts. Half way into adding the mixture, increase the speed to medium.

Mix until dough has a smooth texture. My mixer was a little small for the dough, so once all the ingredients started to come together, I finished it by hand. I am accustomed to kneading dough by hand because of my time working at Sheer Rocks. We didn’t use a mixer so our bread was always made by hand. Once the dough is mixed it should look like the image below.

Give the bread a light spray with some water and wrap in a bowl. Leave to proof for one hour. Now, if you are living in a cold country and your kitchen isn’t warm enough, maybe use a standing heater or put your broiler on in your stove and place the bowl near the heat vent or the warmest part of your stove top. 

Once its finished, Cut the dough into 5.6 oz balls and then roll them into 10 – 12 inch logs. There should be 5 or 6 pieces. We are doing a 5 Braid Challah.

Give the bread a light spray again and place on parchment lined baking sheet, if you have a perforated baking sheet then you shouldn’t need it. Wrap lightly with plastic wrap and leave to proof for One hour and ten minutes.

Set your oven to 350F, place a Sautee pan filled ½ way with water in the oven. This will help produce steam. Which in turn will help the bread rise a bit more.

While the dough is proofing, make the egg wash. The dough should have tripled in size. Give it a light touch, your imprint should almost bounce back. Be very gentle with it, you don’t want the dough to fall. Lightly brush it with the egg wash and put it in oven to bake.

If your oven doesn’t bake evenly, then rotate the bread every 10 minutes. 

I really like this bread not just for the flavor but because it’s a quick bread that doesn’t need a pre-dough that usually sits for 12 hours. This is a bread you can use to impress your family and friends. If you aren’t confident in your Braiding skills (it’s not that hard, give it a shot) then make rolls and use them as buns.

Equipment & Set up: To get such a dark backdrop I used one by a company called Neewer with a standing light. The cutting board is from is from Ikea, and as long as you take care of the board, it will serve you good. The knife is a Cuisinart 7 Piece i got as a gift from my aunt. It's perfect for home cooking. The table I made myself, sorry. 

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