Woven Challah Bread with Black Sesame Seeds

This golden, braided bread is stuffed generously with barely sweetened black sesame paste and is ideal for french toast or even plain for a delicious snack.
By Sami Berger

black-sesame-challah

Challah is by far my favorite bread for making french toast. It’s slightly sweet and soaks up the milk/egg mixture like nothing else. There’s nothing better than french toast with a crusty, perfectly browned outside and creamy, soft inside. I decided to put a twist on things and I thought of black sesame challah right away.

black-sesame-paste-spread-

If you haven’t had black sesame before, it’s time to give it a try. The flavor is very different from white sesame seeds. It’s nutty and I’ve had it mostly in sweet dishes. In fact, my first experience with black sesame was with this black sesame ice cream, which is to die for.

black-sesame-challah-strands

This challah recipe is really great for a number of reasons. The dough isn’t sticky or hard to work with at all. Especially with a drier filling like the black sesame paste, the dough is super easy to braid and can be played with quite a bit if you get confused at first with the steps for the braiding. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s really easy.

braiding-sesame-challah-

You can also fill this challah with all sorts of fillings, including blackberry filling (one of my earliest recipes).

complete-braided-challah

The end result is a beautifully bronzed bread, stuffed generously with barely sweetened black sesame paste. It is delicious plain or slathered with some butter. Of course, it is best made into some simple french toast. Add a bit of vanilla or orange zest into a basic french toast milk/egg mixture and you’ve got yourself something very special and worth celebrating with.

black-sesame-challah-3

Woven Challah Bread with Black Sesame Seeds
 
This golden, braided bread is stuffed generously with barely sweetened black sesame paste and is ideal for french toast or even plain for a delicious snack. Base recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking, Bread
Serves: 1 large loaf
Ingredients
Bread
  • 8g active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon honey
  • ⅔ cup warm water
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3½ (500g) cups all purpose flour
Black Sesame Paste
  • 1 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Egg wash
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup black sesame seeds
Instructions
Bread
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 teaspoon of honey, and water until incorporated.
  2. Let mixture stand for about 5 minutes, until foamy. If your mixture doesn't foam up it means your yeast is dead and you should start over.
  3. Whisk the remaining honey, olive oil, vanilla, eggs and salt into foamy yeast mixture.
  4. Add 1 cup of flour at a time, incorporating it with a wooden spoon, until a shaggy dough forms,
  5. On a lightly floured countertop, knead dough by hand for 5-10 minutes, until a soft, smooth dough forms. Add flour as needed, the dough shouldn't be sticky.
  6. Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated with olive oil (to prevent sticking as the dough rises) and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Black Sesame Paste
  1. While the dough is rising, toast sesame seeds in a pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. You will know when the seeds are ready when they start to smell fragrant and crumble easily between your fingers. They may also start popping, which will tell you that they are ready.
  3. Blend toasted black sesame seeds, honey and olive oil together in a food processor. Depending on the strength of your blender, the paste may not be completely smooth but the seeds should be quite broken down and the mixture should be spreadable.
Add sesame paste to dough
  1. Once your dough has risen, cut it into two equal halves.
  2. With a rolling pin, roll out one of the halves until it is a rough rectangle. The size and shape don't really matter but mine was about 12 inches x 6 inches.
  3. Spread half of your sesame paste in the middle of the rectangle, making sure to leave an inch of space around all of the edges.
  4. Roll the dough into a long, tight strand so that the filling is all inside the dough. Press the seams of the strand together so it doesn't unravel.
  5. Stretch the strand until it is about 3 feet in length. Repeat with second half of dough and sesame paste.
Weave dough
  1. Cut each strand into equal halves. You will have 4 strands of dough, of equal length (about 1.5 feet each).
  2. Place two of the strands parallel to one another. Weave the other two strands, perpendicular to the first ones.
  3. You will have eight strands of dough coming out from the middle.
  4. Take the strands that come from underneath the centre and move it over the strand on the right of it.
  5. Now take the strand you just went over (the ones you haven't moved yet) and move it over the strand to it's left. Repeat this pattern until you have no more dough.
  6. Tuck ends under the bread, pinching to make sure they will stick.
Egg wash and Bake
  1. Transfer dough to a parchment lined baking tray.
  2. Brush with egg and let rise for 1 more hour.
  3. minutes into the rise, preheat your oven to 375F.
  4. At the end of the rise, brush loaf with egg one more time and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
  5. Back for 30-35 minutes. Make sure to check on the bread after about 15-20 minutes to make sure it is not browning too quickly. If it is, cover loosely with aluminum foil for the remainder of the bake.
  6. Cool on rack before serving.

 

Sami Berger

Sami Berger is the author of My Second Breakfast, a mostly healthy, mostly vegetarian blog. Inspired by her travels and life in a new city, My Second Breakfast is a space to tell stories and experiment with sometimes new, sometimes familiar and most importantly, always delicious, flavours.

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