Thursday, July 1, 2010

CHALLAH LOAF WITH HAZELNUT MAPLE SWIRL

SUMMER IN FRANCE


The French Open, the traditional harbinger of another summer, skidded by in a flurry of so many thunderstorms, each French loss weighing as heavy and thick as the gray clouds that hung over the courts. No joy in Mudville, as I say, as another tennis tournament came and went with nary a change in either the national spirit or the weather. May unfolded into June and we were still bundled up in sweaters and raincoats, trudging to market in the chilly drizzle of a season loathe to leave, heating up soup and crusty warm baguette.


Next on the calendar was The World Cup. Yup! The World Cup. Now, this does not happen every summer, which makes the Holy Grail of all football events very much anticipated! But this year the country followed Les Bleus rather half-heartedly down to South Africa; maybe their lukewarm enthusiasm was due in part to the gloomy weather, the steel gray skies dragging them down and instilling a sense of doom. As the days and the matches rolled by, passing one after the next before our anxious eyes as, hands clasped, hearts pounding, we prayed for a miracle as we have been praying for a turn in the weather. Days passed, and although our spirits sunk, the sun slowly appeared over the rooftops, the dusky clouds turned fluffy white lambs skipping across the porcelain blue skies and suddenly picnic season had arrived. Summer.


The clock ticks and the Tour de France waits for no man…or football match. As we impatiently wait for the quarterfinals to light up television screens around the world, so many men in tight shorts and jerseys will be lining up at the starting gate and pedaling off for that most famous whirl around the country of romance. Turn on a television set in France anytime of day or night during these first two weeks of July and all you will see are men on bikes. Men on bikes. Men on bikes. And cars and screaming fans lining the roadsides and standing much too close to the roar of the wheels. The French love their bike race with unmatched zeal, and now that les Bleus have been eliminated from the World Cup and sent home, maybe their countrymen will be able to concentrate comme il faut on the Tour. And maybe not. Europeans are football fans before anything else and their eyes will be riveted onto their screens as they sit down to dinner. Happily, the Tour de France ends at sundown every day, leaving the French free every evening to tune into football.


The French calendar is defined by sporting events and between tennis, football and biking, among all the rest, we are carried through the summer days straight up until the moment that the French can pack their swimsuits and load up their cars and head to their summer vacation on the beach. Nothing, absolutely nothing, not even their beloved sports will keep them home. More than their sports and their favorite teams, the French love nothing more than les vacances!


As for this American, well, let us just say that sports on tv does little more than make me hungry. Rugby match, you say? How about a plateful of scones warm from the oven or a slice of dense, gooey chocolate cake? World Cup match on tonight? Homemade pizza anyone? As we move from a rainy, chilly, dreary end of spring to a brilliantly sunny, sizzling hot summer, the coffee table in front of the tv gets loaded down with salads or taboulé, cold soups of cucumbers or tomatoes, bowls of ice cream and fresh strawberry treats. I spread the red checkered cloth on the table and, dashing between kitchen and living room, make sure everyone is well fed, tummies full, the wine chilled and the bread fresh. As husband surfs through the channels – his only sport – if I see one image of a man’s lycra-clad butt perched upon the seat of a bike as he pedals through small towns or winds through mountains, I bury my face in my hands and yell “No! No! No!” until the channel is changed once again. I sit snuggled up against husband or we each take one sofa and prop up our legs (lucky is he or she that gets a warm dog curled up in his/her lap) and watch the World Cup, our only concession to football, and clap our hands as our chosen team scores or groan loudly as the ball flies off into the heavens, and we let ourselves get carried away. And the 4th of July slips by quietly, unnoticed like a cat slithering through the room only rubbing gently against my legs to remind me that Simon’s birthday is the following day and a cake must be made.

We still prefer rugby!

And as for that summer vacation? Well, this year we fly off to steamy Florida. I will save that for another post. Meanwhile, I’ve baked bread. I returned to a favorite recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg M.D. I wanted to bake for Zorra’s (of 1x umrühren bitte aka kochtopf) Bread Baking Day this month and her theme is nuts! So I took this wonderful, perfect Challah recipe – I wanted to make the brioche but thought it a bit too rich for every day – and created a swirl of buttery maple hazelnuts in the soft golden bread. I sprinkled the top with more chopped hazelnuts and, as soon as it was out of the oven, I brushed more maple syrup over the golden crust. Perfect! The bread is stunningly perfect, light and moist as a great Challah should be with a wonderful nutty hazelnut crunch and redolent of pure maple syrup.


And I'd like to send this to Susan of Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

My latest article is up on Huffington Post Food: Football, Food and Nationality.
Is there one factor, one measure of knowing when a new community is totally integrated? As individuals, families, and whole communities emigrate, they bring with them their eating habits and traditions…

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment after the article to continue the debate! And please share with your friends! Thanks and hope you like it!

My Challah loaf with hazelnut malpe swirl is a featured recipe on the cool new site Maple Syrup World, a world dedicated to maple syrup products, information and great recipes!

CHALLAH LOAF WITH HAZELNUT MAPLE SWIRL
For step-by-step images click here.

This recipe makes four 1-lb (500 g) loaves.

1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
1 ½ Tbs active dry yeast
1 ½ Tbs Kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup honey
½ cup unsalted butter (or neutral-tasting vegetable oil), melted and slightly cooled
7 cups flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water)
About ½ cup or more coarsely chopped hazelnuts

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter (warm, not hot) with the water.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon, a food processor or stand mixer. I used the spoon. Stir and fold just until all of the flour is blended into the wet ingredients and is moist.

Cover with plastic wrap (not airtight) and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should rise then collapse.

The dough can be used right away but is easier to work with when chilled. I made the dough the day before I made the Challah. Simply knock down the dough to deflate then cover with a fresh piece of plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

To prepare the bread:

I used a small 6 x 3 ¾ x 2 ¼ inch cardboard loaf pan given to me by my great friend Clare. I pulled off a grapefruit-sized ball of dough (1 pound/500 g) from the chilled dough and placed on a well-floured work surface. Now, as you will see from the photographs, the pan was too small or the dough was too much (a regular loaf tin would work), but it still came out perfectly!

I gently kneaded the dough, adding extra flour, until it was no longer sticky. I very gently rolled the dough out to a rectangle of about 6 x 10 inches with the narrow side towards me. I brushed the surface all the way to the edges with about 1 tablespoon (15 g) of very softened butter then I brushed/dabbed on about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. I sprinkled on ¼ to ½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts.


Using my dough scraper to help it along, I carefully rolled up the dough, rolled it in a bit more flour and somehow lifted it into the waiting loaf pan.


Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 1 hour 20 minutes (40 minutes for unchilled, freshly-made dough). It should double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle on more coarsely chopped hazelnuts.


Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes for a 9-inch loaf pan; I baked mine for 40 minutes as my loaf pan was too small. The top of the loaf should be a deep golden brown (don’t hesitate to cover the bread with a piece of foil during the baking if you think it is browning too quickly) and crusty and the inside should spring back when pressed in the center. The top cracks a bit and I could peek in a see when the insides were done.


Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top of the loaf liberally with about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.


Allow to cool before slicing.


55 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a splendid challah! I love this maple and hazelnut addition!

Cheers,

Rosa

ABowlOfMush said...

Yum!! Love the flavors in this loaf!

Would love to eat this for breakfast!

Chez Us said...

As always .... wonderful! I love that you used hazelnuts instead of walnuts.

Pam said...

Your challah looks delicious! Just wish I had a slice now! Yum!

Cool Lassi(e) said...

Gorgeous Loaf!

elra said...

Oh my, love the hazelnut in there. This is truly fabulous challah.

Nicisme said...

I would really love to wake up to that in the morning, it looks delightful.
There are some great sporting events on at the moment, I just prefer to watch them!

RV said...

I love challah loaf. They make a great breakfast. I will make them as a french toast too..

sarah said...

Ah, sports. I deal with sports the same way you do--migrate to the kitchen! This looks really tasty. Do you bake it right in the cardboard loaf pan? I have not heard of that before.

Asha @ FSK said...

I love how your bread is bursting at the seams of your mold.. hehe.. awesome challah Jamie!

RamblingTart said...

You know, dear Jamie, I've never, ever, ever made challah or even eaten it, as far as I can remember! You make it sound so heavenly and comforting and wonderful. I simply need to buckle down and make it. :-)

faithy, the baker said...

I've not tried Challah before so i always wonder how it taste like. But yours look absolutely gorgeous and delish..wish i could have a slice! I too love hazelnuts more than walnuts..

Bonnie said...

Your loaf is beautiful. I bet it was lovely for breakfast.

Jamie said...

@Rosa: Thanks. It was surprisingly perfect! Just enough maple flavor and the perfect crunch of nuts.

@A Bowl of Much: Honey, get yourself over and I'll share!

@Chez Us: Well, are you coming over?

@Pam: Thank you dear. Now make it!

@Krista & Faithy: This is the easiest ever recipe - click on the link that shows the step-by-step (where I made classic braided Challah). Easy and amazingly delicious!

FireintheBreeze said...

nice combination of hazelnut and maple :)

doggybloggy said...

nice loaf! I would love to spend a summer in France - it makes me so melancholy just thinking about it - the fig trees in Cagnes Sur Mer...ahhhhh

Jamie said...

@doggybloggy: Christo, just seeing the amazing choice of summer fruits on the markets gets me there everyday and makes me happy to be here.

Heather Davis said...

Hey Jamie! Your Challah bread looks seriously yummy. How funny that you talk about tennis in terms of starting a new season. I feel exactly the same way about Wimbledon here. It's the only time I am glued to tennis (or any sport for that matter). The British are hoping for a victory today in Andy Murray. Personally I think Nadal will sail through. But hey we'll see. Take care Hx

allison [a for aubergine] said...

this looks divine!

Tangled Noodle said...

I saw your tweets about your bread 'exploding' in the oven! 8-) Now I see what you mean; quite frankly, I wouldn't mind such a puffed up loaf bursting with the promise of heavenly hazelnut flavor.

Barbara Bakes said...

I should know better than to stop in before breakfast. Now I'm going to have to have something special for breakfast. It looks delicious!

lisaiscooking said...

The crunchy top and swirled filling look amazing! That must be one delicious loaf.

Chef Chuck said...

Looks delish !! I love the photos :)

Heavenly Housewife said...

What a spectacular loaf of bread, pass the buttah daaaaahling!
Wishing you a fabulous weekend.
*kisses* HH

hobby baker said...

Oh they look just gorgeous! And that hazelnut and maple really takes it over the top. Yum!

Anonymous said...

As a challah fan, I can tell you this is an amazing finger licking and ceative one, way to go!

English Mum said...

Ooh gorgeous - and I love your little paper case too. Pass me a slice!

zorra said...

I have to admit I'm not in sports at all, but I'm in "les vacances" and of course super in your challah! Thank you for participating in BBD #31.

girlichef said...

Is it only us Americans then...that associate sports on tv w/ food!? LOL. So true, though. This challah looks so delicious...I love the swirl of goodness set in there! And as always, your writing stirs something inside and draws me right in...as if I were there. Lovely Jamie =)

Jamie said...

@girlichef: Ah Heather sweetheart your comments make me smile. And laugh - my French husband will indeed be the first one to say (complain) that anything makes us Americans think of food! LOL!

Deeba PAB said...

Can u believe I've never made a challah before. Love what you did with it, and would love to bake bread with you. I can feel it in my bones... it will come true one day!

görel said...

Jamie -- please write a book, will you? Using your language.

ap269 said...

I love, love, love maple syrup. I'm allergic to hazelnuts, so I'm going to try your recipe with almonds or walnuts - sounds soooo yummy!

katharine @ agirlinmadrid.com said...

Looks amazing ! I especially love the first photo. Beautiful and bright.

Mary said...

This is truly a special loaf of bread. The additions take a great loaf of bread over the top. I jumped over and read your HP article, Jamie. Well done :-). As a long-time reader I can tell you the nicest part of all this is seeing you make your dream come true. You've made your words matter. Have a marvelous day. Blessings...Mary

Jamie said...

@ap269: even my husband who can't really eat nuts loved it but did ask me to make more without the nuts. The maple flavor is the best!

@katharine: Hello! And a compliment on one of my pictures is compliment indeed coming from you! Thanks!

@Mary: I am so happy you went over and read my article and enjoyed it. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement.

Jamie said...

@görel, my dear friend, that is a wonderful compliment and I thank you. I'd love to write a book. I feel like I have one inside bursting to get out. Now I need the time :-)

Y said...

It's so chilly here right now, I think I could do with a slice of that warm and wonderful looking challah.

Stacy (Little Blue Hen) said...

So cruel that I just saw this and now want to bake challah in the middle of the night. Perhaps tomorrow after the sandwich bread! It looks wonderful. =)

Anh said...

I need to get maple syrup fix asap!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Oh Jamie, that looks spectacular!! And trust me, the South African calendar is just as ruled by sport... I LOVE the Toure de France though - Nick and I have been watching it together for 12 years now - it was our first courting activity I think ;-) Boys... butts... lycra... what's not to like? :o)

theUngourmet said...

I've always wanted to make challah. Maple and hazelnuts sound like the perfect ingredients for this beautiful bread!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Do they serve challah for breakfast? Because I'm hungry and it looks very tempting with that maple going through it.

I'm not a sports fan but even I enjoy how all the various events pepper the season and you know what to expect in what order, Monaco Grand Prix, Ascot Ladies' Day, Wimbledon and of course Le Tour which is happily now shown on digital tv here! And the upside of the football is that it keeps my husband occupied in the evening so I'm free to blog!!

Junglefrog said...

Now on the topic of rugby... I forgot to mention that in the previous post... the french do have the only good looking rugby team in the world! I mean; seriously (hope I am not offending anyone now) but the English guys are just really not attractive rugby players! (and that is putting it mildy!)
You're right that tour de france seems to be a little less important; especially here with all that football going on!
Love your challah!

catty said...

mmmmmm i love fresh baked bread and hazelnut and maple makes it all the more yummier! At least you will get your shot of summer in Florida :)

George@CulinaryTravels said...

What gorgeous bread Jamie. I adore challah but never thought of adding nuts. Fabulous.

Sippity Sup said...

Of course your always good for a sweet look at sweets but I love what you do with sportier fare as well. GREG

Cathy said...

What a heavenly loaf, Jamie. I imagine the aroma was wonderful while it was baking. I live in the heart of hazelnut country and could never pass up a recipe that calls for them.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

hehe Mr NQN was rather glued to the television for the World Cup too although there were thankfully no late nights as he had to work the next day :P What a heavenly sounding loaf Jamie! I love challah and adding maple and nuts to it is just genius! :D Oh and thanks for your kidn words about Mr NQN's hands! I will tell him that :)

Jamie said...

@Lorraine: Ah, I love sexy hands on a man and notice them right away. And since it was all we could see of Mr. NQN (tempting!) I certainly couldn't help but notice that!

Sook said...

What a great recipe! I love challah bread and love your version of it. The swirl looks beautiful.

The Duo Dishes said...

This is not your momma's challah. Imagine the French toast you could make with this!

GStaples said...

Jamie,
You've still got!!Great pictures, great recipes!! I've got to get busy and keep baking.

asiangrrl said...

I love how you pair sports and food so creatively! The challah looks especially yummy.

maple syrup said...

I love challah and I really love maple syrup. Wonderful! Thx.

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