Sweet Potato Challah

Sweet Potato Challah

It doesn’t matter if you’re a master baker or if you’ve never felt the soft supple touch of dough beneath your fingertips – I think it is safe to say that the magic of baked bread is something that never loses its luster. From the moment I open a packet of yeast, my heart skips a beat. The distinct scent as the yeast dissolves in warm water is a promise of what is yet to come: a majestic mound of risen dough, transforming humble flour and water into a braided loaf of gorgeous golden challah.

Every time I bake bread, I am reminded that it’s not too complicated. It just takes a little bit of time. Little pockets of time during the day to knead, to punch down, to check on it just a bit. The hard work happens without you, really. Just like magic.

Braided loaves of challah are no different from basic bread, it just requires some braiding and a few extra ingredients. To make this Sweet Potato Challah, a little mashed sweet potato combines with the eggy dough to add a touch of sweetness and color, not to mention a richness in flavor that brings a taste of autumn indoors.

To begin, gather the ingredients. You will need flour, yeast, water, honey, eggs, salt, melted butter, and some cooked sweet potato.

Sweet Potato Challah

You can heat the sweet potato in the oven, but a microwave makes quick work of softening the sweet potato so you can easily mash it with a fork and scoop out the sweet potato from the skin with a spoon.

Sweet Potato Challah

In the bowl of your KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series 7-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer, dissolve the yeast in warm water.

Sweet Potato Challah

When the yeast is bubbly and activated, mix in the eggs, honey, salt, melted butter and the mashed sweet potato using the flat beater attachment. Switch to the dough hook and add about 4 cups of the flour to the mixing bowl, mixing on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Sweet Potato Challah

Add more flour about 1/2 a cupful at a time, until the dough is not too sticky and it comes together into a ball. Knead using the stand mixer for about 5-7 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and do a few final kneads, adding a little more dough if necessary.

Sweet Potato Challah

Now is when the true magic happens. Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Sweet Potato Challah

When the dough has ballooned, punch it down, turn it over, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. You could use the dough right away, but I believe that letting it proof longer gives it a much deeper flavor. You could even use the dough several days later if you wish.

On the day you are ready to bake, the fun begins. If you want to keep it simple, you can do a three strand braid, which is just like braiding hair. But today I’m sharing a six-strand braided loaf. Divide the dough into three pieces, then divide each piece into six more pieces for a total of 18 small rounds of dough. You should have enough dough to make three challah loaves.

Sweet Potato Challah

Roll each small piece into a rope, about 1 inch thick and 12 inches long.

Sweet Potato Challah

To braid the dough, begin by pinching the strands together at the top. Take the right strand and cross it all the way over the left, and take the left strand and cross it all the way over to the right. Then take the strand that is now farthest to the left and place it between the four strands down the center. Repeat this pattern until you reach end of the end of the loaf, keeping the braid as tight as possible. Pinch the end under and fluff the loaf if necessary. Let the loaves rest for an hour to let it rise one last time.

Sweet Potato Challah

Sweet Potato Challah

Alternatively, if you wish to bake some of the braided loaves another day, freeze the loaves and let them rest before baking on another day.

Preheat the KitchenAid® 12″ Convection Digital Countertop Oven to 350 degrees F with the rack placed on the lowest setting (number 3).

Sweet Potato Challah

Sweet Potato Challah

Lightly butter the 12″ non-stick multipurpose pan, and place one sweet potato challah on it. Brush the loaf with the egg wash. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is golden, crisp on the outside and sounds hollow when you tap it.

Sweet Potato Challah

Sweet Potato Challah

Let the loaves cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Sweet Potato Challah

Once you experience the marvel of homemade challah, the best part of the magic is making it disappear. Enjoy warm with soft butter! Oh, and don’t forget to save some for french toast the next day!

Sweet Potato Challah

Makes 3 loaves

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
2 teaspoons salt
4-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water, beaten)

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of your KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series 7-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water for about 3-4 minutes

When the yeast is bubbly and activated, mix in the eggs, honey, salt, melted butter and the mashed sweet potato using the flat beater attachment until well blended. Remove the flat beater attachment and switch to the dough hook. Add 4 cups of the flour to the mixing bowl, mixing on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, gradually adding the flour about a 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is not too sticky and it comes together into a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and do a few final kneads, adding a little more dough (add it in tablespoon increments) if necessary. The dough should be soft and supple, and can easily take the shape of a ball, and not too sticky.

Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated with canola oil, giving it a turn so that the the dough has a very light coat of oil. Lightly cover with a kitchen towel and place the dough in a warm spot, free from any drafts.

Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

When the dough has ballooned, punch it down, turn it over, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. While the dough can be used right away, proofing it overnight in the refrigerator gives it a much deeper flavor. The dough will be ready to use the following morning, or even several days later if you wish.

On the day you are ready to bake, remove the dough (or a portion of the dough) from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. You could do a simple three strand braid if you wish. But to create a six strand braid, divide the dough into three pieces, then divide each piece into six more pieces for a total of 18 small rounds of dough. You should have enough dough to make three challah loaves.

Take six pieces and roll each into a rope, about 1 inch thick and 12 inches long.

To braid the dough, pinch the six strands together at the top. Take the right strand and cross it all the way over the left, and take the left strand and cross it all the way over to the right. Then take the strand that is now farthest to the left and place it between the four strands down the center. Repeat this pattern until you reach end of the end of the loaf, keeping the braid as tight as possible. Pinch the end under and fluff the loaf if necessary. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let the loaves rest for an hour at room temperature to let it rise one last time.

If you wish to bake some of the braided loaves another day, freeze the loaves and let it rest before baking on another day.

Preheat your KitchenAid® 12″ Convection Digital Countertop Oven to 350 degrees F with the rack placed on the lowest setting (number 3).

Lightly butter the 12″ non-stick multipurpose pan, and place one sweet potato challah on it. Brush the loaf with the egg wash.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is golden, crisp on the outside and sounds hollow when you tap it. Bake the remaining loaves in batches.

Let the loaves cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy warm with soft butter!

Sweet Potato Challah Recipe

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*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*

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