3 medium beets
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
¾ cup warm water (about 100 degrees F)
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs plus one for glazing
½ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing bowl
1 tablespoon water
1½ teaspoons salt
3¾ cups bread flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse beets and peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut off ends and dice into ½ inch pieces and sprinkle with salt. Roast on a foil lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until fork tender.
- While your beets are roasting, place pomegranate juice and ½ cup sugar into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes until syrup reduces to ¼ of the original amount. Let cool, syrup should be very thick. You just made pomegranate molasses! Mazel tov. Make more and drizzle it on yogurt. You’ll love it! Put cooled beets and pomegranate syrup in a food processor and blend together.
- Now time to make your dough! Prepare the yeast in a large mixing bowl by whisking it with warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar and whisk until smooth. Let yeast stand until it puffs up, about 10 minutes. If it doesn’t get foamy, your yeast is bad or the water was too warm or cool. Try again!
- Whisk in the two eggs, oil, salt and remaining sugar into the yeast mixture until incorporated. Then add the flour and either with a hook attachment using an electric mixer or your hands, about 5-10 minutes, and form into a ball. If it's too sticky, add a bit more flour. Too dry, a bit more water.
- Place the dough in a bowl greased with oil and cover. Let dough ferment in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about two hours.
- Now time to braid! Divide the dough into four stands and roll out. Let sit for a few minutes if the gluten is causing your strands to bounce back. Flatten strands, then put a thin row of the beet mixture along one edge and roll up careful not to let any air bubbles in. If some filling leaks out, don’t worry. Because that just makes the whole thing more beautiful! I was worried until I realized this.
- To do the round braid, layer the strands like the photo below on the bottom left in the post. Then take every other strand and wrap it in one direction over the other strands. Then take the other strands and wrap it over the first strands in the reverse direction.
- Keep repeating until you reach the ends of the strands. Tuck the strands under to secure and ta da!
- Carefully place the loaf on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover, and let it rise again for 1.5 hours or until tripled in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the last egg with a tablespoon of water and use it to wash the challah. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Halfway through baking, give the challah another wash with the egg for extra shine and to get into new creases.
Note: needs 4 hours to raise