One of the best things about having experience cooking and baking is knowing what you can tweak and what you can't. You won't find me tweaking things such as leavening agents, but I will almost always tweak flavors, making a recipe my own.
I saw a NYT Cooking recipe for Olive Oil Challah and was so intrigued by it. I love the dense, eggy flavor of challah bread, I could only imagine loving it more when you add the complex flavor of a good olive oil. Olive oil cake is probably one of my favorite things on Earth. Not only does the olive oil add great flavor, but a moistness to the cake that you couldn't achieve by simply adding more liquid.
Each time I cook I take inventory of what we have in the kitchen and use that as my inspiration for my next cook/bake. My boyfriend and I had a fabulous lunch in Hudson last week at Feast and Floret and the owner gifted us a Scorched Citrus Honey. I knew this was the perfect recipe to highlight it, so worked my way backwards into using it in this Orange Rosemary Challah. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to braid it -- I used this video as my guide. The whole time I said "under goes over it's neighbor" out loud 😂
1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 c lukewarm water
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/3 c olive oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus flaky sea salt for topping
Zest of one orange
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, orange juice and honey. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add the oil, 2 eggs and yolk, salt, zest and rosemary and beat with a dough hook until combined. Add in flour, a cup at a time. You may not need all of the flour, so add the final cup very gradually. The dough should be sticky and soft, but not shaggy or stiff.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until dough is supple and smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a well oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a dish towel. Let rest until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 3 hours. This greatly depends on the temperature and humidity in room -- so measure based on the size of the dough, not the time elapsed.
Turn the risen dough onto a work surface and measure into 4 equal pieces. Roll into equal logs, about 12 inches each. Braid the challah into a round braid, using the video tutorial above. Brush with an egg wash using remaining egg and let rise at room temperature for another 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and after second rise, brush again with egg wash and top with flaky sea salt. Bake for 30-35 minutes, when bread is a deep golden brown.