It’s not easy being cheesy, but it is easy eating Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Challah!
The Rosh Hashanah countdown is ON! As I spoke about in my Carrot Cake Babka post, apples and honey get all the Rosh Hashanah glory, but there are other foods that are perfectly symbolic for the holiday. Like SPINACH! Does spinach not excite you? How about when it’s stuffed into challah with lots of cheese?
Spinach and Cheese Challah is the perfect amount of salty to balance out all your honey gorging. And don’t worry, it’s still sweet because challah. It’s got it all!
Why is spinach a Rosh Hashanah food you ask? Well, it’s all about the puns. Spinach in Hebrew sounds a lot like the word to remove, and we are hoping to remove our enemies in the next year. Maybe a stretch but let’s go with this! If you need me, I’ll be eating extra spinach leading up to the presidential election. 🙂
Spinach is also a food that grows fast, and which represents good luck for the future and, to me, reminds us how things can change quickly. One day we have no spinach, the next day our spinach is plentiful! I think in 2020 we need this message!
I also love this spinach and cheese challah because the braiding technique, or lack thereof, is the easiest! On Rosh Hashanah, we eat round challah to symbolize the circle of life. You can definitely do a round braid like I did here. Or you can do this ridiculously easy
bourbon turban twist, filled with lots of cheese and spinach.
And I have to humbly brag for a bit that I love my challah recipe. I have tweaked it over the years and it’s perfectly sweet (thanks honey and sugar) and rich from the extra egg yolks but also light and has that stringiness you want from a challah. I love you, challah.
I made two medium challot (that’s plural for challah, you guys), but you could also make one giant cheesy and spinachy monstrosity. You pick!
Check out that profile shot!
Swirls for days.
Spinach and Cheese Challah
- 1 envelope active dry yeast 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 3/4 cup warm water about 110 degrees F
- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoons sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 3 egg yolks plus one for glazing, use the whites for breakfast!
- ¼ cup vegetable oil plus more for greasing bowl
- ¼ cup honey trick- measure the honey after the oil and it will slip right out!
- 3 3/4 – 4 1/2 cups cups bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 large garlic cloves minced
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 20 ounces fresh spinach
- ½ cup grated Parmesean
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sumac
- ⅛ tsp cayenne
- 6-8 slices provolone or other cheese
- Start by making the dough. Prepare the yeast in a large mixing bowl for a stand mixer by whisking it with warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let yeast stand until it foams and 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!
- Using the whisk attachment for the stand mixer, mix in the remaining sugar, 1 egg and 3 egg yolks, oil and honey into the yeast mixture. (You can just use a whisk if you’re doing this by hand too) Then gradually add 3 cups flour and salt and either with a hook attachment using a stand mixer or a spoon and your hands until combined. Knead for about 10 minutes adding flour as needed, and form into a ball. Dough should be soft, smooth and slightly tacky.
- 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 2-3 hours. I put mine on top of an oven heated to 200 degrees.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large sautepan, cheat butter over medium heat and then add garlic and salt. Lower heat to medium-low and saute for a minute until garlic starts to brown and is fragrant. Then add the spinach and stir just until wilted. Cool the spinach while draining in a colender so it gets very dry. Lightly even more with towels.
- Place the cooled, dry, spinach mixture in a bowl and add parmasean cheese, pepper, sumac and cayenee and combine.
- When the dough is ready, divide into two equal sized balls. Keeping one covered, roll one into a 16 x 7 inch rectangle, top with a layer of provolone cheese, leaving a 1/2 inch border, and then top with half of the spinach mixture. If you are having trouble getting the challah to roll out, let it rest for a minute so the gluten can relax.
- Roll the rectangle up tightly like a jelly roll starting from the long end. Then form a spiral to make a round mound, tucking the end under. Repeat with the other dough ball.
- I like to bake each loaf on it's own cookie sheet because they spread. Carefully place the loaves on two parchment lined baking sheets, cover lightly with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rise for another 45 minutes or so until it's light and fuffy looking (exact proofing timing for challah will depend on environmental conditions.)
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the last egg yolk with 1/2 tablespoon water and generously brush over challah. Repeat to have two coats. Bake two at a time for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and with an internal temperature of 190 degrees F, rotating pans halfway through. If the challot start to brown too fast, lightly cover with foil. Serve warm or room temperature!