Updated: Aug 16, 2020
This challah is so decadent and delicious, you could save it for dessert!
As long as you love almonds, you will adore this decadent braided bread with a twist (pun most definitely intended). If you are a marzipan hater - which I am, as it happens - fear not because this recipe is not at all that. Frangipane - almond paste - is butter, sugar, and almonds gloriously bound into a creamy paste of dreams. Imagine cubing this delectable loaf for a chocolate bread pudding!
Equipment: measuring spoons; wet and dry measuring cups; food processor; rubber spatula; two large mixing bowls, dough hook; standing mixer with dough hook attachment (optional); bench scraper; plastic wrap; baking sheet; parchment paper or nonstick baking mat; cooling rack
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup slivered almonds
6 tablespoons butter (or margarine for kosher parve)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1. To make the frangipane, place 2/3 cup almonds and 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor and grind until sandy. Add the butter and continue mixing then add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and the flour and mix until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Challah Ingredients: 1 cup warm water (at least 95°F - 110°F) 1 package yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons) 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil 1/3 cup sugar (or ½ cup for sweeter bread) 1 tablespoon kosher salt 3 large eggs 4 – 4½ cups bread flour (or all-purpose) * 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, for garnish
"Bread flour has more gluten (wheat protein) than does all-purpose flour. The more gluten the stronger the bread structure, which also helps the dough to rise."
1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle yeast and sugar on warm water. Stir. Let stand for up to 10 minutes (it should look like the foam on beer).
2. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and then the yeast mixture. Stir in 2 cups of flour.
3. Gradually stir in most of the remaining flour.* Dough will be sticky.
*ILOC tip: The amount of flour used will vary, depending upon the moisture in the air.
4. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (or use a standing mixer with the dough hook on a low speed), adding a little flour at a time as needed. If dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to clean the surface and lightly flour the board to prevent further sticking. When done kneading, the dough will feel silky and smooth.
5. Put dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1½ hours in a warm, draft-free environment until approximately doubled (the bowl placed inside your oven with the light on is a good spot).
6. Punch down the dough with your floured fist. Divide the piece into 3 equal sections.
7. Flatten each piece of dough and spread with approximately 1/3 cup frangipane. Roll each section into equal strands, about 12 inches long, tapering the ends as you roll.
8. Pinch the strands together at one end and braid, maintaining the same tension as you go so that the challah will be symmetrical. Pinch the other end as well when done.
9. Place dough on parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel as it goes through the final rise for 1 hour.
"If you are pressed for time, you can skip the second rise and still get great results!"
10. Right before baking, brush the bread with beaten egg wash (egg and water).
11. Bake for 17 minutes and remove the pan from the oven (shut the oven door so the heat does not escape). Brush with additional egg wash and sprinkle with the sliced almonds, and rotate the pan when returning it to the oven. Bake for another 17 minutes.
The bread should take approximately 34 minutes in total to bake, until golden brown and challah sounds hollow when bottom is tapped. The internal temperature will be approximately 190°F - 195°F, which will vary depending on the size of the bread.
12. Allow the bread to rest and cool for one hour before serving.
You can make the dough the night before, and place in the refrigerator to rise. Remove it 30 minutes before shaping. Then proceed as written above.