Holiday Host Gift: Challah Wreath

Challah Wreath Host Gift

Most of the parties I get invited to at this point in my life are accompanied by a case of Bud Light or boxed wine, but there are certain situations that require a host gift that doesn’t come in a cardboard box. And I’m not talking about wine (Let’s all get a little more creative!). Here’s a gift that’s easy to make, under $10, and is guaranteed to be a hit every time.

After the smash success of Challah French Toast and the realization that honey in braided bread might be the best thing since sliced bread, I now present the Challah Wreath. All you do is follow the recipe below to make challah (I doubled the recipe to make a larger wreath), then braid the challah into a circular braid. To do this, braid the challah on a baking sheet, braid the end pieces into each other and tuck them in so that the start and end points are disguised. Also, remember to put a small bowl or other oven-proof object in the middle so the hole doesn’t close up!

Once baked, place fresh rosemary into the challah to look like branches, and add either edible flowers or cranberries for some color. As a final touch, put a soft, round cheese in the middle so that the challah can be shared around the table with some delicious cheese for the perfect hors d’oeuvre!

You will need:

1 tsp. Dry Yeast
1/2 c. Very Warm Water
A Dash of Sugar
Just under 1/4 c. Vegetable Oil
Up to 1/4 c. Sugar
2-4 tbl. Honey
3/4 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Salt
1 Egg
2 c. All-Purpose Flour (Plus more for kneading)
Egg Yolk for glazing
To top: Rosemary, cranberries, edible flowers, round cheese for center

To Make:

  1. Stir yeast into warm water. Sprinkle with dash of sugar. Let sit until bubbles form (yeast is proofed), at least 5 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable oil, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt. Mix well, by hand or in standing mixer. Add egg. Mix well.
  3. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between additions.
  4. Knead in standing mixer with dough hook for 8 minutes, or by hand for 10-12 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add small amounts of flour as needed. (If using dough hook, turn dough out onto clean, smooth, floured surface and knead by hand for 1 minute or so.)
  5. Place dough in clean mixing bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until at least doubled. (This can all be done the night before you want to bake the bread, and dough at this stage can be left to rise overnight at room temperature.)
  6. Turn out dough onto floured board and knead a few turns. Divide dough into three pieces, roll them into strands and braid them. Pinch and press ends together to seal and tuck them under the loaf.
  7. Place loaf on parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise another 2 hours or so, until doubled in size.
  8. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Use fork to mix egg yolk with small amount of water to thin it out. Glaze challah thoroughly with pastry brush.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.