Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pain Petri - Moroccan Challah - #BreadBakers

Well, this is awkward. Last month I mentioned that I was writing up my post while watching the Great British Baking Show /Bake Off. Well, PBS aired the finale last week and now I find myself a little lost. What am to watch now? Remember when I said I wasn't sure how I felt about the show? Well, now that it's over, I'm missing it. I guess I liked it after all.

This post will be more brief than normal. I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, I guess. Something just feels wrong. Not physically. It's hard to explain. A vibe? Lets talk about the bread instead.

I can't remember what I was Googling back in September when I came across an article about Joan Nathan's Pain Petri. This Moroccan challah is distinct from other challahs in that it includes anise. What caught my eye though, wasn't the use of anise. Until making these loaves, I had never used anise before. I was actually pretty sure that I probably wouldn't like anise. What was interesting here was that Joan Nathan promised a loaf  in less than 90 minutes. That's from kneading to baking. 90 minutes. I saved the recipe and it turns out that it was perfect for this month's Bread Bakers Seeds theme being hosted by Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories.

So a loaf in 90 minutes. Could it really be that good? Wouldn't it be dense? I'm here to tell you that it was good - surprisingly good. It was definitely more dense than a traditional challah but not badly so. More dense but not a dense loaf. Does that make sense? I hope so. For comparison, I divided the dough in two and followed the steps for baking half in 90 minutes. With the second half, I refrigerated the dough overnight.

Fermented Overnight

You know how they say that your baked goods will be even more flavourful with a long, slow bulk fermentation? I've always just nodded and smiled at that. It's not that I disbelieved. I had definitely had more "sour" sourdough loaves when I did a cold rise. But I just had never directly compared two doughs before so I really couldn't attest to how much more flavourful it was.

Wow. That is what I said when I bit into the second loaf. Yes, it was lighter than the first loaf. But it was also bursting with flavour. It was buttery (the dough only has oil). The anise was wee bit stronger too. Night and day. I loved the first loaf. I was IN LOVE with the second. I don't think I will ever bake another loaf of bread without a long, cold rise. (You'll find that funny if you check back later this week and see that I share another 90 minute loaf. Ha! Maybe, I should say that I won't bake another challah-style loaf without a cold rise.)

10 minute bulk fermentation
So if you need a quick loaf of bread to serve to company that didn't give notice and dinner must be ready within 2 hours, try the quick version of this recipe. But if you have time, let it ferment slowly. I almost made another batch of this last weekend but I had to stop myself since the list of breads to make is long. I cannot keep baking tons of pain petri.

Pain Petri - Moroccan Challah
Yield: 2 small loaves
1 cup (227 grams) warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
8 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon anise seeds 
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 3/4 cup (450 grams) flour 
sesame seeds, for topping
egg yolk + half tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together water, yeast, and sugar until yeast is dissolved then whisk in oil and egg. Add anise seeds, salt and most of the flour. Knead until a soft, elastic dough has formed, adding more flour as is necessary.

For a cold fermentation, cover and immediately refrigerate the dough overnight. Otherwise, leave the dough uncovered and let it rest for 10 minutes.

10 Minute Fermentation: Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll one piece out to a 24 inch long rope making sure there are no seams. Bring the ends together and twist to loose spiral. Or shape in another way that suits you. Place on baking sheet and repeat with the other piece of dough. 

Beat the egg yolk with half a tablespoon of water. Brush the loaves and sprinkle sesame seeds over the loaves. 

Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes then rotate the baking sheets. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the bottom of the loaves sound hollow when tapped. 

Overnight Fermentation: Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring dough to room temperature. Shape. Brush with half the egg wash. Let rise uncovered until doubled (approximately 30 minutes). Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.Bake 30-40 minutes or until hollow when tapped.

I'd grind the anise seeds before using next time sot there's a better distribution. 

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month's theme is Seeds, and his hosted by Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to Don't forget to check out the rest of the delicious breads with seeds:


  1. Interesting how one thing about a recipe catches attention then another thing about it fits perfectly with something else. Nice that this has a quick 90 minute option. Great for when there isn't time for a long rising process.

  2. You reminded me that I recorded that British Baking show and forgot to watch the finale-- I'll enjoy doing so tonight. What a nice loaf of bread you made and I appreciated your experiment with the overnight resting time. I will have to try the same on a future loaf.

  3. I think that the bigger the first rise is the better the bread. I love the color or yours also.

  4. My favorite thing about this group is all the great information I learn. I am always in such a rush to get whatever in the oven that I hardly ever give dough a long cold rise in the refrigerator. Except with cinnamon rolls and that's just because I make them ahead so I can bake them in the morning fresh. That's still me being kind of lazy. I am going to take your advice, Kelly, and slow down and make better bread. At least a few times. That said, both of your loaves are lovely.

  5. If they taste as good as they look you are golden!!!

  6. OH MY how gorgeous they are. I love a long slow rise .. the flavors in the bread shine through. I am glad you did a side by side comparison for taste.

  7. Those are gorgeous! Hope you feel better soon =)

  8. What a great post! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to try this.

  9. lovely bread with gloden colour.............

  10. This is a fun looking challah bread!

  11. Oh that's such a gorgeous braid you have there!! Thanks for sharing! Need to bookmark it!

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