Elderflower Challah Bread

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Elderflower Challah Bread

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Allegra Benitah’s Elderflower Challah Bread

Ingredients

  • For the elderflower cordial:
  • 20 heads of elderflower (in season from May-June)
  • 1 litre of water
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 4 unwaxed lemons
  • 5 tablespoons of local runny honey
  • Sieve
  • Fine muslin (or good quality kitchen roll)
  • For the challah:
  • 1.5 kg of plain flour
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • ½ cup of elderflower cordial (homemade using this recipe or shop bought)
  • 40g fresh yeast (or 1 tablespoon of active dried yeast)
  • 2 eggs (plus one more egg white for the egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • ¼ cup of sunflower oil
  • Rolling pin

Instructions

  1. To make homemade elderflower cordial, pour the honey and sugar into the water and bring to the boil slowly before adding the juice of 2 lemons and slices of the remaining lemons. .
  2. Take the water off the boil, place the elderflower heads downwards in the water (handle the flowers delicately so as not to lose all the fragrant pollen), cover the pan and leave the mixture to infuse for 24 hours
  3. Once your mixture has infused, run the liquid through a sieve lined with a fine muslin (or good quality kitchen roll) until you are left with a clear cordial.
  4. Pour ½ cup of the cordial into a bowl with the lukewarm water and dissolve the yeast into the water. Once bubbles start to appear on the surface of the mixture, pour in about a third of the flour, followed by 2 eggs, salt and sunflower oil. Get your hands into the dough and combine the mixture, adding flour little by little as you go, until you get a big ball of dough which doesn’t stick to your hands (you might not need all the flour – just see what your dough needs). Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, adding a bit of flour if it gets too sticky again. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl covered in cling film to rise for about 1 ½ hours or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Once the elderflower challah dough has risen, knock it back and place on a lightly floured surface to shape. Roll the dough out long, thin and flat using a rolling pin and then cut 4 long strips out of the dough and shape into a 4 strand round braid. Once shaped, leave the challah dough to rise again under a clean cloth or cling film. Once risen again, egg wash the challah dough using egg white (for a lighter, matte finish) and then bake in the oven at 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F for 30 minutes at the bottom of the oven.
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