Baking challah every Friday can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have young children. Because I can’t spend a few hours each week making challah, but it is important to me to have homemade challah, I use a recipe that yields 4-8 challah loaves (depending on the size you make each loaf). I freeze the loaves and pull one out on the following Friday mornings. My daughter is now getting to the age in which she can help cook, which is a lot of fun if you don’t mind a messy kitchen! Although most food she helps me prepare must have rainbow colored sprinkles in it, cooking with her and sharing the experience is well worth rainbow sprinkled pizza, salad, challah etc. I can’t think of a better way to usher in Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah or any holiday, than with a colorful homemade challah.
For Shabbat, challah is usually braided lengthwise but on Rosh Hashanah we make the challah round to signify the new year. For a long time, I simply rolled the dough into one long “snake” and wrapped it around itself to form a round challah. This approach can work, but mostly for me, it ended up looking flat and uneven. I searched online and found that in order to make the nicely shaped round challah, I needed to weave the dough. I have included a few links below the recipe to tutorials for weaving round challah.
Here is the recipe I use for Challah:
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
5 lb. flour bag (minus 2 cups)
5 packages of dried yeast (or 4oz fresh)
4 cups of lukewarm water
1 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 cups of oil (Canola)
2 cups of sugar (I often do 1 cup brown and 1 cup white sugar, or I will only use 1 cup sugar and substitute honey for the second cup)
In a large bowl dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 4 cups lukewarm water (wait to see bubbles)
- Mix all dry ingredients in separate bowl
- Make “well” in center of bowl—add egg, oil and yeast, mix with spoon
- Knead mixture well until it has a stiff but smooth consistency
- Lightly oil the dough
- Cover (with saran wrap) and place in a warm spot
- Allow dough to rise until it has doubled in size (1 hour 45 min.)
- Separate a piece of dough and set aside in silver foil to broil and discard (broil in oven before baking Challah)
- Recite the blessing over small piece of dough (see prayer below)
- Grease pans or use wax paper
- Divide the dough into 4-8 pieces (depending on desired loaf size)
- Add sweet ingredients such as raisins, honey, cinnamon, pieces of apple etc.
- Divide again and shape into individual loaves (see links to tutorials for round challah)
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- Glaze challah with egg (or egg yolk)
- Let rise 45 min
- Sprinkle with savory toppings: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, oregano, or sautéed onion or sweet toppings
- Bake for 20 min., turn the pan around and then for another 20 Min. (or until browned)
- Wrap extra loaves, once cooled, tightly in plastic wrap or foil freeze
Links to tutorials on how to weave a round challah:
Prayer for Separating Challah:
BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM A-SHER KID-SHA-NU B’MITZ-VO-TAV V’TZI-VA-NU L’HAF-RISH CHAL-LAH
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate challah.
Natalie recently moved back to Denver with her husband and two year old daughter after being away many years. She is an education consultant specializing in early childhood education and helps Jewish preschools create and develop curriculum and programming. She loves going on adventures with her daughter especially at the pool and zoo.