Challah bread – Challah is a rich and slightly sweet pillow-y bread that is both a pleasure to eat and to look at. Sounds fancy, but is actually really easy to make!
Yes, I know Passover is next week….and that Jews don’t eat bread during those eight days. But my friend Liz wrote a Jewish cookbook and I couldn’t wait to tell you about it!
I spend a lot of time promoting Christmas and Easter foods on this page of mine, but Jewish recipes certainly deserve their place in the sun, too! Plus, our food is delicious! It really is. Ever tried a smoked brisket? Sigh. So good.
Liz, from The Lemon Bowl, has written a series of eCookbooks called From Our Ancestors, profiling Sunday dinner across America. This is the third in the series, focusing on The Ultimate Shabbat Dinner. (It is preceded by The Ultimate Italian Sunday Dinner and The Ultimate Mexican Sunday Dinner.) The Ultimate Shabbat Dinner is unique because Shabbat (or Sabbath, in English) dinner traditionally takes place on Fridays, the day of rest.
Shabbat dinner is a festive occasion where family gathers, candles are lit, prayers are said, and then the Challah is blessed.
My family doesn’t go to temple or celebrate Shabbat dinner. But we get together for the major holidays, embrace a lot of the Jewish traditions, and certainly look forward to the meals.
Although some would compare it to brioche, in my humble opinion, there’s nothing like Challah bread. NOTHING. Pillow-y soft inside, with a rich and slightly sweet taste, it’s both a pleasure to eat and to look at. The braid is really something, and the golden outer layer is quite stunning. One slice warm out of the oven with a slab of butter is bliss!
Some other recipes from The Ultimate Shabbat Dinner eCookbook include:
Spinach Artichoke Pie
Shabbos Apple Cake
You can buy it here. It’s only $4!!
- • 7 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
- • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- • 3 tablespoons dry yeast
- • 2 cups lukewarm water
- • 4 large eggs, beaten
- • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- • butter or vegetable oil
- • egg wash
- • poppyseed or sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and add the 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until a frothy layer develops on top; about 5-10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the 7 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and butter. Mix together with a wooden spoon, pulling in a little flour at a time from the sides of the bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture. Mix to combine until a dough is formed.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for about 5 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, work in a teaspoon of flour at a time until the dough is smooth, pliable, and not wet.
- Lightly butter or oil the inside of a very large bowl. Place dough inside; cover with plastic wrap in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough and separate into three equal parts. Roll each piece of dough into long ropes about 1-inch thick. Gather the sections and squeeze them together at the top. Braid together as if you were braiding hair and squeeze the ends together when done.
- Gently transfer braid to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise until double in size and pillowy, about another 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Brush all over the challah with an egg wash, making sure to get in the cracks and along the sides of the loaf. Sprinkle with some poppyseed or sesame seeds.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Slice and enjoy on its own or with a slab of butter!
2. In the winter time, I like to place the bowl of dough on a heating pad to aid in the rising time.