With bursts of chocolate throughout the dough, this challah tastes a lot like a chocolate babka, only sweeter and more moist, thanks to mashed, extra-ripe bananas. Like many traditional challah loaves, this one is topped with seeds. I chose a combination of poppy and black sesame seeds, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. The seeds, along with banana and chocolate, form a perfect trifecta of flavors and textures, as I first discovered from baking seeded chocolate chip banana bread.
Banana Chocolate Chip Challah
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon water
Sesame and/or poppy seeds, for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
2. Add water, olive oil, eggs, and mashed bananas, stirring until smooth.
3. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. You might not need all the flour, or you may need more; keep adding flour until the dough is moist but no longer sticky. Stir or knead in chocolate chips.
4. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead dough for a few minutes, until smooth and elastic; when formed into a ball, the dough should hold its shape.
5. Place dough in oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel, and let rise for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.
6. Divide dough into 3 equal-sized strands. Pinch one end of the strands together. Braid the strands, and then pinch the other ends together. Transfer to a baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel. Set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes. While loaf is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
7. In a small bowl, prepare egg glaze: beat together egg and water with a fork. Brush the surface of the challah with the glaze; store any leftover glaze in the refrigerator for future use. Sprinkle liberally with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or a combination of the two.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Let cool on the baking tray. Wrap leftovers in tinfoil, or place in an airtight container, and store at room temperature.
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