Poppy Seed Challah-#TwelveLoaves October

Sometimes you feel like a Nut…or a Seed…or a Grain!
If there is a bread I could eat happily every day, it would have to be challah. A braid or a loaf. How about a stunning challah ring? Challahs are soft and beautiful breads.

                 TWELVE LOAVES

I had to revisit making a challah for October #TwelveLoaves. I hadn’t made one since the beginning of summer. Since the theme is seeds and grains for #TwelveLoaves October, I decided on a poppy seed and onion challah.

A quick congrats to Irma in Texas for winning the Red Star Yeast giveaway! Thanks to all of you for participating. :)

September was a delicious baking month based on Cheese! Boy, you all love your cheese.  We had 34 incredible links. Thank you to all of you for baking with us!

For our third Twelve Loaves challenge, Jamie of Life’s a Feast , Barb of Creative Culinary and I have decided that your homebaked bread – whether yeast bread, quick bread, pizza, scone or muffin or anything that can qualify as bread – must contain NUTS, SEEDS and GRAINS! That’s right, your bread must have either nuts, seeds or grains or a combination of 2 or all 3 involved in some form or another, one way or another.

Inspiration for your baking idea:

Waffles or pancakes
Bread sticks

Barb made delicious Quinoa and Date Bread  –
(Barb is giving away a fabulous book: Grains and Mains-check it out!)

Jamie baked this gorgeous Lemon Pecan Almond Quick Bread
Here’s all you have to do:

1. Please make sure that your Bread is inspired by this month’s theme; this is obligatory if you would like your link to be included! 
2. Have your #TwelveLoaves bread that you baked this September, 2012 posted on your blog by October 31, 2012.
3. When you post your #TwelveLoaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the #TwelveLoaves challenge in your post and include links to this us: Cake Duchess, Creative Culinary and Lifesafeast.
4. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog. It must be a bread baked to the #TwelveLoaves theme.
I pin every bread to our very delicious #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board. Look how incredible it is!!

Do you tweet? We sure do!
See what’s freshly baked for #TwelveLoaves : @TwelveLoaves on Twitter
Chat with the bakers! Lora @cakeduchess , Barb @creativculinary ,  Jamie @lifesafeast
It’s been a pleasure #BreakingBread with you since I launched this Breaking Bread Society (now Twelve Loaves) this past May. Check out what we have been busy baking!

May theme: Focaccia
June theme: Corn Rolls
July theme: Challah
August theme: Summer Fruit
September: Say CHEESE!

I’ve submitted this yummy bread to Susan at Wild Yeast Blog.


I had been wanting to try a challah recipe I found on Leite’s Culinaria from Arthur Schwartz. I used his dough recipe and the filling and rope braid concept is from this site. The challah dough was so lovely to work with. The actual assembly was not that complicated. Just make sure your filling is ready and cool. I had to double the amount of what was in recipe I found.

I couldn’t stop babbling about this bread. My brother and mom were over for dinner the night I baked it. My brother was getting a little tired of my gushing, “Isn’t this challah INCREDIBLE??”. It truly was. My brother noted that next time I should add more onions. My mom said the onion flavor was perfect. For me it was subtle and that’s the way I like onion flavor. Because it was such a large ring, we did have a little leftover. The next day those leftover pieces were as soft as the day they were baked.

Poppy Seed Challah

Challah Recipe


For the dough
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (no more than 110°F [43°C])
1/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour, or 5 1/2 to 6 cups bleached all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup peanut, corn, or canola oil
2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
4 tbsp butter (I used Earth Balance margarine)
6 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsps salt
1 tsp black pepper

For the egg wash
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar


Make the dough:
for some step by step on how to make different shaped challah, check out my photos from this post:
In a mixer, with a dough hook attachment, add the warm water and yeast. Mix until blended.  Add the sugar and mix about a minute. Slowly mix in 1 cup of the flour until combined. Mix in the eggs one at a time until they are combined.  Add another 2 cups of the flour, the honey, oil, and salt.  Mix together on medium-low speed stopping the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Slowly add the rest of the flour (the remaining 4 cups) and mix until combined. Stop the machine as you add each cup of the flour to scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate the flour. Mix on low speed for 12 minutes until dough is incorporated. Be sure to give your mixer a break and as you don’t want to burn it out. Add flour if needed 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will be a little sticky but also firm.

Take dough out of mixer bowl, form into a ball and coat with a light film of canola oil.
Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl (when I put the dough in the bowl I swish the dough around the bottom of the bowl and then flip it over so all of the dough is covered in a light film of oil). Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1-1 1/2 hours).
Here’s my dough after 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile prepare the filling by putting all the ingredients in a small saucepan, cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, and let it cool.

Cut the dough in half; roll each piece into roughly 10 by 8 inches rectangle, spread half the filling on each piece of rolled dough leaving about an inch space on each side.
Roll the dough and pinch to make sure it is sealed well, repeat this with the second piece of dough.

Lengthen the ropes by gently rolling them; each piece should be about 22 inches long. Don’t over roll the ropes as you may loosen the seal and the filling can start to come out. I had some stray poppy seeds on my work board that got on to one of my ropes. No big deal as you will be doing an egg wash after it rises again and sprinkling on more poppy seeds.
Twist the ropes, not too tightly, and bring the two ends together. You want to make sure when you’re twisting to form the rope that you start close at the top part with the crossing over. If not, the rope won’t be tight enough.

Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover the dough with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, and let it proof for about 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F, brush the challah with the egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake the challah for 35-40 minutes. The bread should be golden brown. Ovens may vary so check your challah at about 30 minutes and see how it’s doing. You test if it’s done by tapping the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it needs a bit more time.* Be careful to not burn your fingers like I did when you do that test. Let it cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Happy baking!!

xo Lora

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