Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lemon and Lavender Scented Challah

Garden Season continues!  The basil, thyme, and sage are going crazy.  The tomatoes are starting, and the peppers are gaining color.  When we first planted our garden, I added a little lavender plant.  One year later, the plant has increased in size probably ten-fold and I've never used it for anything.  Time for that to change.
Most lavender recipes out there are for fresh or dried lavender flowers.  I had a great time exploring all sorts of different recipes and information links here, here, and here.  I ultimately decided that I wanted to use various Lemon Lavender muffins as an inspiration.  I've used lemon once before, although the result wasn't very successful.  Last time, I used so much lemon juice that the dough was extra soft, and the lemon scent was overpowering.  This time, I decided to pair the lavender leaves with the zest of a lemon.  Additionally, I added quite a bit of sugar to this recipe and used warmed milk instead of water to proof the yeast.  I think the yeast may have under-proofed a bit, because my resulting challah was dense, almost like a tea biscuit... which was really my goal.  This is the kind of challah that I want to slather with lemon curd and serve with Earl Gray tea.

1/2 c milk (I used skim)
1 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1/4 c plus 1/4 tsp sugar
1 egg (split, I beat it then used "most" in the dough)

2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of half of 1 lemon

Leaves of 1 sprig of fresh lavender

I based this recipe off of my REALLY Small Batch Challah, as I did earlier this month with Strawberry Basil Challah.  One small-size loaf.

Finely chop the lavender.  Place lavender and milk in a small sauce pan on the stove and warm.  Add the yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar.  Let rest for about 10 minutes.  Add the egg, rest of the sugar, and lemon zest.   Add the flour and salt.
lavender_1 lavender_3
Knead with a dough hook on 2 or by hand until the dough holds together as a ball.  {You can see how small this batch is here.}
Cover and place in a covered, oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. As I said, the dough didn't seem to really rise... but I just went with it.  Braid as normal.
The Hazz also made me a little "A," perfect for a pre-Shabbat sampling...
Let rest for about a half hour. Egg wash with the reserved egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
I love this challah. It's surprising. It smells like tea time. It just feels fancy. I'm calling it a success. Can't wait for more challah from the garden throughout this summer.
Shavua Tov, from our bayit to yours!!!