Half Whole-Wheat Easter Bread (Choereg)

Monday March 25, 2013


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Winter Easter is coming! That means its time for chocolate eggs, egg painting, egg fights and egg bread. Or Choereg as it's called in Armenia.

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My father and I have been playing around with some of the classic Armenian recipes. So far we have made a vegetarian version of dolma, dessert borek, and finally our latest endeavour is the whole wheat choereg. Because I can't help these things... I need to experiment.

Ex-communication is near! I may get disinherited by my Armenian grandmother.

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It turned out wonderfully! I even got praise from grandma-ma- although she is still adamant that I shouldn't change classics and refuses to adopt an overnight rise to save time.

Of course I didn't tell her about the minor mishap with my attempt at an overnight rise in the fridge and butter solidifying at cold temperatures and thus the dough not rising at all. Next time I will let it rise overnight on the counter with less yeast.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh...

BUT nothing ventured nothing gained- I managed to sort it out and the loaves turned out. Phew.

The whole wheat version has a slightly nutty flavour with the wheat but it was quite good! If you want to see the classic origional recipe with white flour, you can find it HERE

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Easter is a time for egg fights and chocolate and fun food. Let's make Easter bread and push the envelope with whole wheat flour. You might end up a convert like me, just don't admit it to my grandmother.

Recipe: Half Whole-Wheat Choreg

Makes 2 small loaves (the pictures below are for a larger batch!)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup gluten flour* (replace this with all purpose if you don't have it but it helps it rise better!)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour reserved in case needed
1 1/2 tsp ground mahleb
pinch of salt
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp lukewarm water
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk

Topping:
1 egg beaten
blanched whole almonds
sesame seeds
nigella seeds (optional)

Method:

In a glass measuring cup, combine the lukewarm water, a pinch of sugar and the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes until the yeast has become foamy and activated. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan. Add the milk and sugar and dissolve over medium heat. Set aside to let cool.

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Measure the 3 cups of flour into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Add the Mahleb and salt and mix. Beat the eggs together until fluffy in a separate bowl and add the cooled milk mixture as well as the yeast to the eggs.

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By Hand: Add the liquids to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until mostly combined. Switch to your hands and knead the ingredients together until they become a cohesive mix. Knead for about 8-10 minutes (you may need to use the reserved 1/2 cup of flour depending on the consistency of the dough (it is better for the dough to be too moist than too dry!). The texture should feel like your ear lobe.

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Kitchenaid: Turn to slow and add the liquids slowly. Switch to the dough hook attachment and let knead on low for ~5 minutes. The dough should stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl but the sides should be clean. Add more flour or water as needed 1 tbsp at a time.

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in your oven or a warm spot to rise for ~1 1/2-2 hours or until doubled in size.

Prepare 1 large baking sheet - Cover with a sheet of parchment or a silpat.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and divide the dough into equal sized balls (to make 3-braid choereg, split the dough equally into 6 pieces-3 per loaf, to make 4-braid loaves split the dough into 8.).

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Roll each ball of dough into a long rope (~1 foot long each) and braid. Transfer each loaf to the tray (make sure to leave ~2inches between each loaf as they need to rise again).

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Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft-free spot to rise (~40 min).

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover dough and place blanched almonds into the folds of the braids. Brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with the nigella and sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for ~20-30 minutes or until golden. Let cool on wire rack.

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