Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Figgy Olive Oil and Sesame Challah #BreadBakers

While it's only been a few days since I last shared a decadent, hearty loaf of bread with everyone, I couldn't wait to get back into the bread kitchen as soon as I could!

With the school year's end approaching all too quickly, I find myself spending more and more time away from my beloved stove and oven and in front of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents, moseying through report cards. When I can't stand another minute in front of the screen (or sitting still), bread making becomes my go-to relief - it's multi-stepped, interspersed with waiting periods which I use to continue "work" work, the (albeit minimal) hand kneading and shaping is therapeutic and the sheer variety of flavour and texture possibilities allow my imagination to run wild, even if only for an hour.

Figgy Olive Oil & Sesame Challah

I had kept my eye on the #BreadBakers challenge group for a while now, soaking up the decadent posts from the likes of Baking in Pyjamas, Noshing with the Nolands, Magnolia Days and a few others from #SundaySupper, and I finally got the nerve to join in! This month was focused on the world of stuffed bread, and I knew exactly the loaf I wanted to create. Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, this just hearty enough, half whole-wheat dough is enriched to silky, smooth and tender perfection with eggs, honey and both olive and sesame oils. As tender and moist as it is, after rising the dough keeps its integrity, making it strong enough to not only weave into an 8-strand plait but hold ribbons of homemade fig-sesame jam inside each "rope". Each slice has maximum fig and sesame distribution, and truthfully needs no adornment... however, that didn't stop up from thinly spreading on some tahini and runny honey at breakfast time!

Figgy Olive Oil & Sesame Challah

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

BreadBakersIf you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

This month, we're filling out breads with all sorts of goodies... why not "stuff" yourself with these bakes!

Sweet Breads

Savory Breads

Figgy Olive Oil and Sesame Challah
Makes one large loaf, 24 slices

1 tbsp instant yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat bread flour
¼ cup honey
⅔ cup warm water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 eggs
2 tsp Kosher salt

Fig Filling:
6 oz chopped dried figs
½ cup water
⅓ cup fresh orange juice
pinch sea salt
pinch white pepper
pinch cardamom
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp vanilla

Egg wash:
1 large egg
sesame seeds, for topping

  1. Whisk the yeast and flours in a stand mixer bowl.
  2. Add honey, water, oils and eggs and mix just until dough begins to hold together.
  3. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Knead with the dough hook on low speed for 8 minutes.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
Fig paste (can be made ahead and refrigerated):
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the figs, water, juice, salt, pepper and cardamom.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the figs are soft and tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and let cool to lukewarm.
  4. Process fig mixture to a paste, either with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Stir in the sesame seeds and set aside.
  1. After the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn onto a floured work surface.
  2. Divide it in half and roll the first half into a wide rectangle.
  3. Spread half the fig filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1” border on on long side.
  4. Roll the dough into a long, tight log, then gently stretch the log as long as possible without breaking the dough. Divide it in half and set aside.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough and fig filling.
Weaving (for visuals check out the original recipe):
  1. Arrange two ropes in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a tight tic-tac-toe board.
  2. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet.
  3. Take the four ends that come from underneath the center and move them to their right, over the other strands.
  4. Take the ends that were just covered (originally on the right) and cross them over the end to the left. If you have extra length in your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. Tuck the corners or odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.
  5. Transfer the dough to a parchment-covered baking sheet or, if you have a baking stone, a baker’s peel.
  6. Mist with oil and let the loaf rise for another hour.
  7. 30 minutes into the rising time, preheat your oven (with a stone if you have it) to 375°F.
  1. Brush loaf with the beaten egg and water combination and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  2. Bake 60-70 minutes, covering lightly with foil after 30 minutes.
  3. When baked, the center of the loaf should be 195°F.  
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 150.8
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 23.2 mg
Sodium: 103.8 mg
Total Carbs: 23.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 4.0 g