I have seen beautiful challah many times at our favorite bakery, but have always been intimidated to make it myself. Recently, we were assigned to make challah it in our study of Celebrating Biblical Feasts by Martha Zimmerman, and so Olivia and I gave it a try.
Olivia especially thinks that baking is magical, so we had a lot of fun working and talking together.
We think it turned out beautifully.
Our house smelled heavenly while it baked, and it tasted wonderful with our meal that night. We made special memories that day.
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 2 C warm water
- ¼ C sugar
- ¼ cup oil
- 4 tsp salt
- 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- 7½ C flour
- Take a large bowl and pour in 2 cups warm water.
- Soften the yeast in the water.
- Add sugar, oil, salt.
- Blend in the eggs (reserve 1 Tbsp of white for brushing)
- Add 3 C flour- beat well to avoid lumps.
- Let it rest for about 5 minutes.
- Gradually add the rest of the flour (4½ C).
- Oil the table and your hands and knead the dough for about 10 minutes.
- Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place.
- let rise about 1½ hours. Shape. Braid on cookie sheet.
- Brush top with egg.
- Let rise 1 hour.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Tap the bottom of each load. When there is a hollow sound, the bread is done.
Zimmerman writes in her book Celebrating Biblical Feasts several interesting facts about the challah bread. A few of my favorite:
- Traditionally, the mother prays for each member of the family as she stirs the mixture, kneading in her love. (Isn’t that lovely!?!)
- The loaves are commonly braided to suggest the shape of folded arms. When your arms are folded, you are at rest. This is why it is served in a traditional Jewish sabbath meal.