August 9, 2016

Challah Bread Pudding

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Last week I bought a loaf of challah at Trader's Joe although the crust is very pale unlike my homebaked. Although I already lowered my expectations, I was still disappointed for its lack of flavor. It also got moldy after 3 days. What a waste. I baked one loaf flavored with a little orange and lemon zests and vanilla extract. I cubed 4 thick slices and made bread pudding with golden raisins (sultanas). Drizzled with Hershey-style chocolate syrup or limoncello glaze, the pudding is delicious.

Challah Bread Pudding
5 cups 1-inch cubes challah, air dried for 2 hours
3 eggs, well beaten
2 cups half and half or whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup golden raisins/sultanas
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix eggs, half and half, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  • Soak challah for 10 minutes, turning once for even soaking.
  • Layer challah into individual baking dishes/large ramekins; dot all over with sultanas/raisins between layers. Top with a few more sultanas.
  • Cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325° F; remove aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Serve warm with chocolate syrup.

3 to 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon instant yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup warm whole milk
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons room temperature butter (slightly cool)
1 egg mixed with ½ tablespoon water for egg wash
  • In a standing mixer, stir together flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
  • Add the rest of ingredients except butter and egg wash.
  • With hook attached, mix on low for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium high and knead for 6 minutes.
  • Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until absorbed by dough.
  • Knead for another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let ferment on the kitchen counter for 1½ hours or until doubled in volume.
  • Knead lightly to expel excess bubbles. Divide into 6, 4, or 3 portions (whatever braid you are comfortable shaping with). Flatten each portion and roll into a long cigar. Leave the middle portion slightly fatter than the sides.Shape into a braid.
  • Transfer into a cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise on the kitchen counter for 3 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  • Brush loaf all over with egg wash. Leave uncovered for 10 minutes. Brush one more time and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350° F.
  • Remove loaf from oven and quickly (if possible) brush the portions that are lighter in color. Bake for another 30 minutes turning sheet for even browning.
  • Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
Hershey-style Chocolate Syrup
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt.
  • Stir in water and let simmer for 3 minutes. 
  • Stir occasionally to ensure the syrup is smooth.
  • Transfer into a measuring cup; stir in vanilla extract.
  • Leave to cool completely then transfer into a squeeze bottle.
  • Keep refrigerated.
Note: for the sugar I use 50/50 xylitol and raw or white sugar


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