We’re halfway through Hanukkah and on our way to Christmas. Living in a household that celebrates both holidays, I love combining them and making our own traditions. This year, I did just that by making some Gingerbread Challah. If there’s one thing that always disappoints about gingerbread, it’s that it’s not actual bread. If there’s a second thing, it’s that there’s no beer in it. (Put. Beer. In. Everything.) So I decided to remedy both of those things by turning some traditional challah into a gingerbread challah, made with Bison Organic Beer’s Gingerbread porter. The beer itself is brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg and… of course… ginger. It lends itself wonderfully to the flavor profile and the texture of the bread.
So whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Atheist, or just a fan of delicious food… check this recipe out, it’ll knock your holiday-lovin’ socks off.
Editor’s Note: The next morning I made some French toast out of this bread and it was, hands down, the best French toast I’ve ever had.
GingerBraid (Gingerbread Challah)
adapted from allrecipes
makes 2 loaves
⅓ cup molasses
⅓ cup warm water
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup beer
1 ½ tsp salt
⅔ cup olive oil + 2 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
5 cups unbleached flour
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp lemon zest
¼ cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1 tbsp white sugar
½ cup water + ½ cup brown sugar
Whisk molasses and warm water together. Stir in yeast. Let set for 15 minutes. It’ll be a little foamy. Stir in salt, ⅔ cup olive oil and beaten eggs.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves and lemon zest. Add to wet ingredients, a cup at a time. It should be tacky but not sticky.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and stretchy. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it. Flip it a couple times to get it nice and oily. Cover with plastic wrap and a slightly damp towel and set in a warm place to rise for an hour and a half.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide into two equal sections. Place one back in the bowl and re-cover. Divide the other piece into four equal segments. Roll the four pieces into thin ropes, about the width of your thumb/about 14 inches long. Make the top and bottom of each rope thinner than the center. Pinch the tops together and spread them out so they don’t touch.
To braid, take the left rope, and move it to the right to cross underneath the next 2 ropes, then move it left to cross back over the strand immediately to its left. Take the far right strand, and move it to the left and cross it under the two strands to its left (they are already crossed from the previous braid); then move it right to cross back over the strand immediately to its right. Repeat until the 4 strands are braided together all the way to the end, and pinch the ends tightly together. Repeat the steps to braid the second loaf.
Place the loaves on the lined baking sheets and return to the warm, cozy spot of your kitchen. Let rise for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together heavy cream, egg white and sugar. Brush over the dough. Bake for 30 minutes or until shiny and browned.
Remove from the oven. While the bread is cooling slightly, whisk together ½ cup water and ½ cup brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes. The water will have reduced and it will be slightly viscous.
Brush the brown sugar simple syrup over both of the warm loaves of bread. Repeat with a second brushing after the first has dried. This will give you a glossy/sweet coating.
Break a piece off and die of happiness.