I love to make bread. This past Easter I made a very special Challah. Thanks to my friend Tobi I now know how to pronounce it correctly! The Ch starts way back in your throat with a gutteral, scratchy Huh and K sound all at once. Try it…it’s fun, especially if you really exagerate it!
This eggy bread is not reserved for the Jewish Sabbath or Easter, but can be enjoyed any time. Challah, known by many different names, is used in cultures all over the world. The recipe I made is easy to include with any big dinner party as you make it ahead, freeze and bake just before serving. Leftovers (if there are any!) make delicious French Toast or yummy fried sandwiches. Go heavy on the egg wash using two coats and be sure not to over-bake.
3 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast; about 1 1/2 packages
1 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup lukewarm water (too hot and it will kill the yeast; not hot enough and the yeast won’t “work”)
1/2 cup vegetable oil; more for greasing the bowl (I used butter for greasing.)
5 large eggs
1 Tbsp. table salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup raisins (optional) plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (I used poppy.)
|Here is the dough all raised after sitting in a warm spot for 1 hour,
ready to be punched down and rise again…get the symbolism?!?
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar and salt. This is a good way to “test” your yeast. If after a couple minutes, the yeast does not foam up, it is no good. Start over with new yeast. Within 5 minutes it should be nice and foamy.
Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 large eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Use more flour as necessary so dough does not stick. Clean out bowl and grease it using either oil or butter, then return dough to bowl. Swirl it around so all sides and top benefit from the oil/butter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for at least an hour until almost doubled in size. Punch dough down (with love), cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half hour.
At this point you can knead the raisins into the Challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. Traditionally Challah is braided. You can use a fancy 6-braid technique or simply do what I did which is divide dough in half. Form 3 strands for each loaf and braid as you would hair. Pinch and fold the ends together and under so braids don’t unravel. Either keep as a loaf or bring the two ends together to form a circle for a round loaf.
Beat the remaining egg and brush it on loaves.
Either freeze breads or let rise another hour. If baking right away keep at least 2 inches between loaves as they will grow again upon final rising and still more when baking.
If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves one more time with any remaining egg. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using and bake for 30-40 minutes.
If freezing, wrap each loaf individually in plastic wrap and then foil. Unwrap and remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. I added another egg bath for good measure.
Bake in middle of oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack. The aroma of this baking bread is intoxicating.
Note: Straight loaves of braided Challah are eaten throughout the year–typically on the Sabbath–round Challahs, often studded with raisins, are served for the New Year and other High Holidays.
My husband and I recently slipped away to the beautiful historic city of Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1636 by Roger Williams (that’s him atop that sculpture!) makes it one of America’s oldest cities.
This fascinating small city is teaming with things to do; lots of art, culture, fabulous food and history. Providence is also home to Brown University and The Rhode Island School of Design. Don’t miss the RISD Museum! We stayed in a lovely B&B (The Old Court; www.oldcourt.com
) right in the heart of everything. It was fun to depend on our feet rather than wheels for 48 hours! While in town I visited a unique wine store (www.bin312.com
) featuring 300 wines priced under $20. I tried a Malbec blend that was truly one of the best wines I have ever tasted…and was under $20.
TUPONGATO VINEYARDS-MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The region lies at the foot of the Mt. Tupungato volcano, which, at 21,555 ft. high, is one of the highest peaks in Argentina. The 2009 Tupongato Malbec blend (mainly Malbec with some Merlot and Cab), which the owner of Bin312 selected for me, was a complex and delightful mix of black cherry, hint of currant, coffee and chocolate. You really could separate and taste each of those flavors!
Here is my THOU…
Providence is located at the head of Narraganset Bay and has 4 rivers running through it-The Providence River, Woonasquatucket, Blackstone, and Moshassuck River. If you are a hopeless romantic (as we are!) a gondola ride is a must.
All for today…hope you enjoyed my ramblings.
Tune in again soon for another episode of
In the meantime, keep cooking!