Chocolate Six-Strand Braided Challah Loaf
If you haven’t noticed, I’m baking along with the themes of the Great British Bake Off each week. Not all the bakes of course, who has time for that? But each week I try to bake something inspired by the previous week’s show. This week was Bread Week, and the bakers had to make a Signature bake of a chocolate loaf, then Dampfnudeln in the Technical (a kind of sweet steamed bun or dumpling, originating in Germany) and finally a savoury plaited loaf for the Showstopper. My bake this week is a chocolate six-strand braided challah loaf.
I’ve seen delicious looking challah made by Helen from Family Friends Food, among others, and wanted to make it for quite a while, so I decided this would be the time to do it. I also came across a recipe by The Nosher for double chocolate chip challah and I loved the different colours of the dough and the multiple-stranded braid so wanted to include these elements in my bake as well. As many challah recipes are in cup measurements and I didn’t want to use these, I referred to several different recipe for challah and used elements of each, including Helen’s spiced apple challah, to make my own challah inspired recipe for the bread. Gladly it worked well and the resulting loaf is deliciously springy and full of the flavour of the cinnamon, honey and chocolate. As I didn’t try to incorporate any really heavy elements like chocolate spread into my loaf, it cooked through with problem (many of this week’s bakers seemed to have a problem with this due to all the chocolate in their bakes).
Inside, the different coloured strands have made a two-tone loaf, and the chocolate chips have melted into the bread in places after baking giving a really unctuous flavour. The slices look effective with their stripes of colour, and each slice is different due to the braiding. I love the dark colour that the dough with added cocoa has, and the bread really shines from the egg wash you apply before baking.
My braid isn’t that tidy, some parts of it broke apart during the second rise. I think on the show Paul mentioned it is best to only give a short rise time for the second rise when working with plaited bread, to avoid losing shape, but as I had to go to the supermarket while mine was proving there was little chance of that! I found the six-strand braid quite hard to do and will definitely be practising it again in the future. I do plait both my daughters’ hair every day so I have a lot of plaiting experience, but luckily I just do normal plaits!
- 300 ml warm water
- 2 sachets (14 fast action yeast
- 3 tbsp runny honey
- 80 ml vegetable oil I used sunflower
- 1 tsp heaped ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 500 g strong white (breaflour
- 25 g cocoa powder
- 100 g chocolate chunks
- 1 egg for egg wash
Add the yeast to the warm water in a large bowl and mix in the honey and oil.
Slowly add the flour, bit by bit, stirring at first and then kneading once it is less sticky.
Add the cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt, and knead using a dough hook in a stand mixer for ten minutes.
Split the dough into two pieces, place one piece in a bowl and cover with clingfilm, then leave it to rise for an hour until doubled in size.
Take the other piece of dough and knead in the cocoa powder. If it goes a little dry you can add a tiny bit more water and/or oil, but make sure it is only a tiny amount.
Put the chocolate dough in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour until doubled in size.
Knock back both bowls, then add half the chocolate chunks to each bowl and knead in to the dough.
Split each piece of dough into three and roll each piece into a long thin strand.
Braid the six strands to form a plait (check YouTube for tutorials on how to do thiand place the loaf on a silicone mat to rise again, for 30 to 45 mins (I left it for longer as I popped out but would reduce the time next time).
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan). Brush all over the loaf with the egg wash.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and the base sounds hollow if tapped. When you check the loaf you can also brush on more egg wash to cover any areas where the bread has stretched during baking, this gives a uniform shiny appearance.
Pin this recipe for later on Pinterest:
Sending this over to the Great Bloggers Bake Off with Jenny.
And #Bakeoftheweek with Helen