My challah is usually yellow. Many years ago, when I first started making challah, I used a pinch of saffron threads soaked in hot water to lend a delicate yellow hue to my challah, along with the eggs. As a vegan, I use some kind of fruit puree to sub in for the egg, generally either persimmon, mango, or peach. YOLK-colored fruit. Well, yesterday, I didn’t have any of those yolk-colored fruits, but I did have some left-over gorgeous black plums I’d mostly used up canning plum jam. So I threw some plums in the blender with some agave and canola, leaving the skins ON, and voila, purple challah. But you better believe, it was delicious!
Challah – Purple or Not
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 tsp table salt
- 3 lrg plums*
- 1/3 cup agave
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup warm water
- Olive oil and flour for rolling
Place the bread flour, 2 1/2 cups of the white whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook, and mix. Pit and quarter the plums, and put them in a blender with the agave and canola oil. Add the plum mixture to the mixer, and add the water. Add more white whole wheat flour to get to a very thick pancake batter consistency. Don’t add so much flour that the dough gets tough; it’s okay if it’s not pulling away from the bowl all the way. Sticky challah dough makes soft bread.
Place a teaspoon of olive oil in a large bowl, OIL YOUR HANDS, and scrape the dough into your bowl. Roll the dough around as best you can to get it fully oiled. Cover with a dish towel and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Generously flour a board. Uncover your dough, gently punch it down, divide it into two balls, and put one back in the bowl. Place the second ball on the board, sprinkle some flour on top of your dough, and oil your hands (keep your hands oiled through this process). Knead a few times to integrate the flour. Cut the ball into 2 parts, 1/3 and 2/3 pieces. Divide the 2/3 hunk into thirds, and roll each 1/3 into a snake. Braid the three snakes together, and tuck the ends under to make a pretty bottom layer. Place the bottom layer on 1 side of the cookie sheet. Repeat process with the 1/3 hunk. Place the top layer on top of the bottom layer. Repeat the process with the second ball of dough. Cover the cookie sheet with a towel for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the challahs have rested for 20 to 30 minutes, remove the towel, and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, and check for color. It should be golden or darker. Bake for an additional 5 or 10 minutes to achieve good color. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing. Or not. We never slice, and we generally don’t wait for it to cool. But that’s us.
*If you want actual yellow challah, as opposed to purple, you can puree persimmons (the custardy kind work best for this), mango, or peaches in the blender. You want the equivalent of about 4 eggs. Sorry I can’t give you an approximate weight, but you probably know what an egg looks like, you can guess about how much fruit would be its equivalent.