Friday, June 8, 2012

Strawberry Basil Challah

So, apparently Strawberry + Basil is a trendy combination of flavors.  And all of these look really awesome.  Strawberry Basil Lemonade sounds very refreshing.  However, when I started seeing some baking recipes with this flavor, it got me thinking... could I turn Strawberry Basil Scones and Strawberry Basil Cupcakes into Strawberry Basil Challah?  Well, I gave it a go...
One of thing things that I love, love, love about warm weather is my garden. The Hazz gave it to me for our first anniversary last year {coming up on two years on June 13th!}, and it's one of my favorite places.
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And one of the best things about the garden is the herbs... particularly... THE BASIL!
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I was very excited to spot these sweetened dried Strawberries at Trader Joe's, similar to the dried blueberries we used in Wild Blueberry Challah in April. A combination of both berries in one challah... definitely coming up in a next few months! Yum!
1/2 c water
1 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp white sugar
1 egg (split, I beat it then used "most" in the dough)
3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
Small handful of fresh basil, chopped
Dried Strawberries

I based this recipe off of my REALLY Small Batch Challah, a challah I created to "test" recipes. I was apprehensive about this recipe working... so the yield is low. One small-size loaf.

The method here is similar to other challah, but since the recipe is so small, you might need to mix by hand instead of with a hook if the dough ball is too small for your mixture. Proof the yeast in the hot water with the sugar. While you're waiting, chop the basil and strawberries.
After the yeast is frothy, add most of the egg (reserve a small amount to be used in the egg wash), vanilla, and oil. Stir in the flour, salt, and basil.

Knead with a dough hook on 2 or by hand until the dough just starts to hold together but is still shaggy. Add the strawberry pieces all at once. Continuing kneading until the dough holds together as a ball.
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Cover and place in a covered, oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface. Braid as normal, trying to keep the strawberries on the inside of the dough.
Let rest for about a half hour. Egg wash with the reserved egg. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
This challah is really different. The basil aroma comes across much more than the basil flavor. The whole result--the fresh basil marrying the sweet strawberries--is a lovely combination... I completely understand why the flavors are so popular. I think when I make this challah again, I'll add more strawberries and perhaps put a little vanilla in the egg wash to sweeten the whole thing up. I also tried it toasted with a bit of lemon curd... delicious and it made me feel so fancy!
Are YOU incorporating garden fresh ingredients in YOUR challot?