I love challah. I make it every so often to eat in thick slices, toasted and slathered in butter. It is a lovely bread, satisfying to make because the dough becomes so smooth when kneading, and delicious because it somehow manages to be a little cakey while still definitely being a bread. I normally use the recipe from The Kitchn, weaved into a six strand plait, and it is normally great.
Then, I stumbled upon this recipe for marzipan challah. Doesn’t it just look so beautiful? Sometimes, when I find a recipe, I will yearn for it. This was one like that: a desperate feeling that I needed to make it to have that sweet almond taste wrapped in the folds of gluten.
I got marzipan immediately, came back from the shop and was kneading within minutes. As always, the challah dough came together and was a beauty to knead. I was excited. The dough rested for two hours, and it proved up lovely. I rolled it out, I spread the marzipan mix across the dough, I coiled and shaped and I left to prove one more time before popping it in the oven.
Somewhere, somehow, during its baking, this bread went bad. The marzipan mix streamed from the base, caramelising into hard, burnt slabs on the parchment paper. Most bizarrely, where the bread an been a coil at first, it had sprung A WHOLE EXTRA LAYER. This loaf had gone from an elegant little spiral to a weirdly tiered melting monstrosity – you can spot the extra tier because it’s a bit paler, having obviously formed later in the bake.
I’m trying to work out why. I have absolutely no explanation for the extra layer, especially because there is still a little bit of bread there, so the dough has morphed around the marzipan and I don’t know why that would be. On the marzipan all falling out, I have two theories: 1) the marzipan was not very cold, and had been mixed with butter, and so just melted everywhere, and should’ve been chilled before putting in the bread, or 2) the seam where I had rolled up the dough was at the base of the loaf, meaning the marzipan was not encased and so could just slip out.
But these are mere theories. If you have thoughts on why this might have happened – on how I might have made this monstrosity – do let me know.