Tag: challah

Camembert, Pear and Thyme Challah

Camembert and Pear Challah

A lot of cracking and aching was going on in the oven while I watched my camembert, pear, and thyme challah bake. At one point I got worried that my braided bread was going to explode. It rose and expanded on all sides, it looked more like a challah pancake than the elegant breaded loaf I had in mind. Maybe I filled the single yeast dough strings a bit too generously with ripe – and stinky – cheese and chopped crisp fruit, but I had a feeling that the recipe needed it. So I trusted, which is always the only sensible thing a baker can do when the object of attention doesn’t perform as expected.

To my surprise, it worked out in the end and the shape still reminded me of a Hefezopf – the German name for challah. I used my classic plain challah recipe and replaced the sugar with honey. It’s common in Germany to use butter and milk for this kind of bread, instead of water and vegetable oil, which you usually find in traditional challah recipes. I like the added richness coming from the dairy products, I find it tastier. Seeing as the fruit and cheese bring in even more juice and moistness, I could have made the dough a bit drier, added more flour to help it keep its shape. But the final texture was so nice, soft and spongy, that I’d rather accept the pancake-look than ending up with a dry Hefezopf.

If you don’t feel like camembert, you can also go for any other aromatic cheese that melts well. I already have a raclette challah in mind, next time. And I’m sure that apricots or peaches would also do a pretty good job instead of the pear. So feel free to experiment, but keep in mind, the juicier the fruit, the more it’ll soften your dough.

This challah is a perfect picnic, brunch, or Saturday lunch treat, preferably accompanied by fresh fruits, wine, and a selection of cheese and prosciutto. A green salad with juicy tomatoes also goes very well with it.

Camembert and Pear Challah


Camembert and Pear Challah

Camembert, Pear and Thyme Challah

When I baked my challah, it was a very hot day. So the butter in the dough literarily melted in my hands and turned braiding into a fiddly task. The single braids stretched quicker than I reacted, I was too slow. If you also happen to go for this recipe on a day with high temperatures, to avoid stress and frustration, try to work quickly when you braid the loaf. Keep the braids a bit shorter to begin with, due to the filling they’ll expand in length.

Makes 1 large challah

honey 2 tablespoons
butter, melted, 100g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
milk, lukewarm, 150ml / 2/3 cup
organic eggs 2
plain flour 520-550g / 4 cups – 4 cups plus 4 tablespoons
fast-acting yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon

For the filling

aged camembert, cooled and cut into thin strips (it’ll be a mess if it’s too soft), 250g / 9 ounces
medium to large firm pear, cored and cut into tiny cubes, 1
fresh thyme and a little rosemary (the needles, chopped), a large handful

For the glaze

organic egg yolk 1
water 1 tablespoon

Stir the honey into the hot melted butter and whisk until combined, let it cool until it’s lukewarm. Add the milk and eggs and whisk, the mixture should be lukewarm.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the milk-butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix for about 5 minutes or until well combined and smooth. If it’s too soft and sticky, add a little (!) more flour. Continue kneading and punching with your hands for about 3-5 minutes or until you have a soft and silky ball of dough. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C (100°F) warm oven, for 60-70 minutes or until almost doubled in size. If it’s a hot summer day, you can let the dough rise at room temperature (that’s what I did this time).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the dough is puffy and almost doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for about 30 seconds. Divide into 3 parts and roll them into longish, but not too thin sausage sausage shapes (see picture above). Flatten each piece of dough until it’s roughly 7.5 cm / 3″ wide. Divide the camembert, pear, and herbs between the 3 pieces of dough and spread, leaving a little rim all around the filling. Fold over each piece of dough, roll it gently, and seal the overlapping side and ends well. The filling should be completely wrapped inside the dough.

To braid the bread, work quickly, as the dough stretches. Lay the ends of the dough rolls on top of each other at one end and braid them tightly. If they become too long and thin, squeeze them together a little. Bend both ends of the bread under the loaf and quickly transfer to the lined baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 40-50 minutes or until fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (conventional setting).

For the glaze, whisk the egg yolk and water and brush the top of the challah. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and spongy. When you knock on the challah’s bottom, it should sound hollow. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting the bread into thick slices.

The challah tastes best on the 1st day.

Camembert and Pear Challah


Camembert and Pear Challah


Camembert and Pear Challah


Camembert and Pear Challah


Camembert and Pear Challah

15 Recipes for your Easter Brunch Table

Tsoureki Easter Bread

Hunting Easter eggs in the woods was one of my childhood’s spring highlights. The sweet smell of blossoms and sunlight in the air, the trees’ leaves presenting their most fragile green, and – in a lucky year – I could even replace boots and jacket for shirt and jeans while searching for golden wrapped chocolate eggs and bunnies. I always loved the sprouting energy that comes with the change of season, when winter’s shades of grey and brown give way to vibrant colours. Easter is a changing point in the year, there’s the promise of summer in the air.

Is there a better way to celebrate this day than gathering your loved ones around the table and treating them to a luscious brunch? Here’s some inspiration (click the titles for the recipes):

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread with Aniseed and Orange Blossom Water



Traditional Maltese Figolli



Eggnog Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream



Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka


Green Shakshuka Crêpes

Green Shakshuka Crêpes


Rhubarb Tartlets with Cinnamon Oat Crumble



Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyere Onion Focaccia


Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins


Crescent Milk Rolls with Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seed Crescent Milk Rolls


Bean and Ramp Quiche

Bean and Ramp Quiche


Rhubarb Chocolate Cake

Rhubarb Chocolate Cake


Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots


Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Cheesecake Swiss Roll


Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

Roast Rosemary Lamb


 Spinach Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni on Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach Ricotta Conchiglioni


Spring Timpana – Maltese Pasta Pie with Asparagus, Peas, and Leeks

Spring Timpana


There will be two new Easter recipes coming up this Sunday and next Wednesday!


Eggnog Easter Cake

Challah – Sweet and Fluffy Braided Yeast Bread

Sweet Braided Yeast Bread

As passionate as I am about my dinner, I feel the same about breakfast which is quite late in my case. I always start the day with a cup of green tea with freshly squeezed lemon as I don’t like to eat early in the morning but then after a couple hours my body needs some energy which I gladly deliver. Bread, fresh vegetables and fruit, my coffee of course, and some cheese. To me, it’s all about bread, dark or white, buns, croissant, during the week it’s a dense spelt loaf from my bakery most of the time but then on the weekend I love to bake my own bread. It’s the most relaxing and delicious way to end the week!

Where I grew up, I used to buy a brioche like loaf of bread, fluffy and sweet, a bit dark on the outside, sometimes made with raisons, it’s called Stuten or Blatz. It’s baked square shaped and best when cut into thick slices, spread with butter or, one of my favourites, with liver pâté. I never managed to bake a Stuten as good as the one I bought from my hometown’s bakery which unfortunately doesn’t even exist anymore. I’m still working on it!

For now, I enjoy a similar bread, in a different shape and made with a slightly different dough. The wonderful Challah! The braided yeast bread is just as sweet and fluffy, I eat it either with butter or liver pâté, or with one of my homemade jams, like the blood orange or tangerine marmalade.

The trees and flowers around have been bursting in the past days, I had to catch these moments and share it as I enjoy this beauty as much as a fresh and warm loaf out of my oven!

Sweet Braided Yeast Bread

Sweet and Braided Yeast Bread

For one braided loaf of bread you need

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast 1 sachet (7g / 0.25 ounce)
sugar 60g / 2 ounces
salt 1/2 teaspoon
butter, melted, 100g / 3.5 ounces
milk, lukewarm, 150ml
organic eggs 2

pearl sugar for sprinkling
organic egg yolk 1, for glazing
milk 1 tablespoon, for glazing

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix the hot melted butter with the cold milk and the 2 eggs, this way the liquid mixture will have the right lukewarm temperature (check with your finger). Mix the dry and the liquid mixture with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven for 70 minutes (I tried it for 60 minutes but the last 10 minutes make a big change). This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

Take the dough out, punch it down and knead for 1 minute. Divide it into 3 pieces and roll them into long sausage shapes. Lay the ends of the rolls on top of each and start to braid them tightly. Bend both ends under the loaf and put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it rise for 30 minutes, covered with a tea towel, in the warm oven.

Set your oven to 200°C / 390°F (top / bottom heat).

Whisk the egg yolk and milk for the glaze, brush the bread, sprinkle with pearl sugar and bake in the oven for 10 minutes before you turn it down to 180°C / 355°F and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.

Sweet Braided Yeast Bread


Sweet Braided Yeast Bread


Sweet Braided Yeast Bread


Sweet Braided Yeast Bread