Challah is sort of my thing. I've been baking my own and tweaking my recipe since I was 16 years old, and I love coming up with new combinations of flavors whenever I am inspired.

I generally prefer savory challah, since you can use the leftovers for sandwiches. But every now and then a sweet challah with chocolate chips, cinnamon, raisins, or chocolate really hits the spot.

Not everyone loves the flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and I consider those people crazy. What is better than peanut butter and chocolate!? Well, maybe peanut butter and chocolate in a challah. With crumbs on top. Served with a cup of coffee, and this is what my breakfast dreams are made out of.

Tip: Baking challah is not a one hour process, so definitely give yourself plenty of lead time. And don't rush the rising--the longer you let the dough rise, the fluffier it will be.

Happy challah baking!

Ingredients

For dough:

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting

1/2 Tbsp yeast

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 Tbsp salt

2 eggs plus 1 egg for brushing

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For crumb topping:

1/2 cup flour

3 Tbsp margarine

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup peanut butter

peanut butter chocolate chip challah slicedDirections

Put yeast and 1 tsp sugar into a small bowl. Add lukewarm water, stir gently and allow to sit until foamy bubbles form on top, around 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, peanut butter and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. When yeast-water mixture is ready, add to flour mixture until it is incorporated.

Add eggs one at a time and another cup of flour. Mix thoroughly.

Change to dough hook on mixer, or if working without a mixer, continue to mix in a large bowl. Add chocolate chips.

When the dough is too difficult to stir, flour a working surface and start kneading. Add remaining flour and knead for 10 more minutes.

Grease a large bowl and add dough to bowl. Cover with warm, wet towel. Let dough rise for 2-6 hours, punching down at least once.

To make the crumbs, add flour, brown sugar, salt, margarine and peanut butter to a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut ingredients together until small-medium size crumbs form. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When challah has risen, braid challah into two medium sized loaves. Place loaves on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Allow challah to rise 30-60 minutes extra.

Brush challah with beaten egg and sprinkle crumbs on top.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until outside is golden, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

 

Shannon Sarna is the baketress behind Sweeney Sweets: Traditional Challah with a Modern Twist. A lover of all things food, she spends her spare time glued to The Food Network, and baking at her favorite kitchen in Englewood, NJ. In her professional life, she serves as External Relations Coordinator for The Samuel Bronfman Foundation in NYC.