Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saffron Challah

Okay, well, I admit that lately I may be over-doing the baking thing...just a little. Heh Heh. Okay, a lot. But baking is so addictive. Once you start, it's so hard not to get started on something else (even when the first thing isn't quite finished yet). I don't know...maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I came across this recipe in WildYeastBlog (yes, I know, again...what can I say? I love that site), and as we still have a very VERY old stash of saffron tucked away in our pantry, I thought it would be a nice way to use it (I'm one of those people who get really OCD about old, unused ingredients in the pantry). Plus the saffron gives the bread a really rich golden hue and adds an interesting flavor as well.
The recipe itself is surprisingly simple by bread-making standards, and I'd have to say that the hardest step by far is the braiding - which is not very necessary, just good for aesthetics. Unfortunately, I messed up on timing and popped the thing in the oven before it had risen to full capacity, so my loaf turned out a little too dense. But the fault was entirely mine and has no reflection on the recipe, which is absolutely fantastic. I mean, look at the sheen on that loaf! Doesn't it just make you want to tear into it? Or at least touch it.

Saffron Challah (adapted from WildYeastBlog)


-300 g flour
-150 g high-gluten flour
-150 g water
-3.7 g (2 3/8 t.) instant yeast
-8.5 g (scant Tablespoon) salt
-Pinch of saffron threads
-25.5 g sugar
-40 g egg yolk (4 yolks)
-50 g whole egg (2 eggs)
-34 g vegetable oil
-One egg yolk for egg wash

1. Soak the saffron threads in 3/4 cup boiling water, and let cool to room temperature.
2. Add ice water up to the final amount required for the recipe.
3. Add the other ingredients, then mix until combined.
4. Knead until you reach full gluten development (windowpane test - see note*)
5. Transfer to a lightly oiled container, then let rest at room temperature for 1.5-2 hours. At 1 hour in, punch down the dough gently to degas it.
6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. You may cut the dough into 2 smaller pieces or leave it as 1 large loaf. 
7. Shape the loaf as you wish. I used this link here for braiding instructions.
8. Cover the dough with saran wrap and let rest at room temperature for another 1.5-2 hours.
9. Coat the top generously with egg wash.
10. Bake at 380F for 30 minutes until it is golden.
11. Dig in!

*Note: windowpane test is a test that bakers use to determine when they have kneaded the dough enough. Tear off a piece of dough and stretch it out between your hands. If you can get it thin enough to see light filtering in through it, then you have reached full gluten development. If it tears before you get to that point, you have low gluten development. Medium development is something between those two stages.


  1. That looks amazing! And while saffron is expensive, its totally worth it!

  2. This looks so good! I can't get enough of challah bread. Plus, the addition of saffron is so cool!



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