Baking · Israel · Judaism · Tutorial

Tutorial: How to make Challah Bread

It’s Friday again, it’s Shabbat again; let’s make Challah Bread. A lot of people discourage you from making Challah as it is a complicated process and the success of it lies it the little details. Luckily there’s Tori Avey’s website Theshiksa to help us out. It’s only when I use her tips that my Challah comes out great.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, divided
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 to 6 cups flour
  • Egg Wash Ingredients: 1 egg, 1 tbsp cold water, 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional Ingredients: Raisins, chocolate chips (1 ½ cups of either)
  • Optional Toppings: Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt

You will also need: Large mixing bowl, whisk or mixer, kitchen towel, cookie sheet, parchment paper, plastic wrap, pastry brush – Servings: 1 very large challah, 2 regular challahs, or 24 mini challah rolls – Kosher Key: Parve

Instructions:

  1. Pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water (about 110 degrees) into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 packet of Active Dry Yeast and 1 tsp of sugar to the bowl, stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. The yeast should have activated, meaning it will look expanded and foamy. If it doesn’t, your yeast may have expired, which means your bread won’t rise—go buy some fresh yeast!
  2. Once your yeast has activated, add remaining 1 ¼ cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with the egg, egg yolks, honey, canola oil and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly blend the ingredients together. Recently Updated1
  3. Begin adding the flour to the bowl by half-cupfuls, stirring with a large spoon each time flour is added. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead.
  4. Continue to add flour and knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and not sticky. The amount of flour you will need to achieve this texture varies—only add flour until the dough feels pliable and “right.” If you plan to add raisins or chocolate chips to the challah, incorporate into the dough as you knead.Recently Updated2
  5. Place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil.
  6. Meanwhile, remove the dough from your mixing bowl and wash out the bowl. Grease the bowl with canola oil. Push the dough back into the bottom of the bowl, then flip it over so that both sides are slightly moistened by the oil.
  7. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Place the bowl of dough on the middle rack of your oven. Take the saucepan full of boiling water and place it below the rack where your dough sits. Close the oven, but do not turn it on. The pan of hot water will create a warm, moist environment for your dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  8. Take the dough bowl out and punch it down several times to remove air pockets. Place it back inside the oven and let it rise for 1 hour longer.
  9. Take the dough out of the oven. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board. Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, then turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead for a few minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling sticky.
  10. Now your dough is ready to braid. If you plan to separate and bless the challah, do it prior to braiding. Click here to learn how to braid challah.Recently Updated3
  11. After you’ve braided your challah, place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (this will catch any spills from your egg wash and keep your challah from sticking to the cookie sheet).
  12. Note: you can put a single challah braid on a cookie sheet, since they tend to expand a lot when baking.
  13. Prepare your egg wash by beating the egg, salt and water till smooth. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of the mixture onto the visible surface of your challah. Reserve the leftover egg wash.2013-10-111
  14. Let the braid rise 30 to 45 minutes longer. You’ll know the dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the indentation stays, rather than bouncing back.
  15. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. The challah needs to bake for about 40 minutes total, but to get the best result the baking should be done in stages. First, set your timer to 20 minutes and put your challah in the oven.
  16. After 20 minutes, take the challah out of the oven and coat the center of the braid with another thin layer of egg wash. This area tends to expand during baking, exposing areas that will turn white unless they are coated with egg wash.
  17. Turn the tray around, so the opposite side is facing front, and put the tray back into the oven. Turning the tray helps your challah brown evenly—the back of the oven is usually hotter than the front.
  18. The challah will need to bake for about 20 minutes longer. For this last part of the baking process, keep an eye on your challah—it may be browning faster than it’s baking. Once the challah is browned to your liking, take the tray out and tent it with foil, then place it back in the oven. Remove the foil for the last 2 minutes of baking time.2013-10-112
  19. Take the challah out of the oven. At this point your house should smell delicious. You can test the bread for doneness by turning it over and tapping on the bottom of the loaf—if it makes a hollow sound, it’s done. Let challah cool on the baking sheet or a wire cooling rack before serving.
  20. This recipe will make 1 very large challah, 2 regular challahs, or 24 mini challah rolls. I usually divide the dough in half to make 2 medium challahs, which are more manageable and easier to braid than a large one. Choose what works best for you. 2013-10-113Shabat Shalom
History · Judaism · Uncategorized

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

Today is Yom Kippur 5774. On Rosh Hashana God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book called the Book of Life and waits until ten days later, at Yom Kippur, to “seal” the verdict. During those Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. “Yom Kippur is the 10th Day of Repentance and can’t mask over the fact that we have looked deeply into our soul over these last few days, we have exposed our weaknesses and shortcomings, and that causes us to weep with anxiety and dread lest I be found wanting on the Day of Judgment. But Yom Kippur is also the Day of Atonement, when all sincere penitents are guaranteed a second chance.” At synagogue the service includes the Kol Nidre prayer (meaning all vows) reaching deep in to our souls. Kol Nidre symbolizes the opportunity to free ourselves from the past and is about letting the inner light shine out.  As we’re about to fast for over 24 hours, we first have a big family meal. Yom Kippur ends around sunset the next day with the blow of the Shofar (the ram’s horn) at Synagogue.  On Shabat and on every Jewish Holiday we eat Challah – that is jewish special braided bread. I’ve been trying to make it many times and mostly not sharing as it has not been a success. But today, with a little help from Tori Avey’s website “The Shiksa in the Kitchen”, we have a beautiful and tasty Challah bread with photos as proof. Here’s a great recipe if you’d like to try your own including instructions and variations for braiding. I’ve made a 4-stranded challah, a round one (mostly what we use on high Holidays) and a Unified Heart one (Leonard Cohen fans should know what it its). And talking about Leonard Cohen, even though I shared it last year, I dare to share again. His song “Who by fire” is inspired by this prayer from the liturgy of the Day of Atonement. Here’s an amazing live version from the show in Helsinki in 2012 – yes Javier Mas plays an almost 4-minute-intro.

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.

Tsom Kal & Gmar Hatima Tova צום קל וגמר חתימה טובה

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And to end it on a lighter note with Ari Gold from Entourage and his way of celebrating Yom Kippur: http://youtu.be/3iqZIm-d7bk

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