My challah adventure

It is a Jewish custom for married women to bake challah for Shabbat. (For more info please read the fantastic article Challah, the Divine Dough on Aish.com)

I don’t particularly enjoy cooking or baking so I always dismissed this custom as “not for me”. My first brush with more serious baking (other than making cake from the recipe behind the Hershey’s cocoa box!) occurred after visiting my aunt for a Shabbat and tasting her delicious homemade challah. I then challenged myself to try it out. I took her recipe down and the following week attempted to make my first batch. To my surprise it was very easy and came out quite delicious! After using her recipe for quite a while I was confident enough to change it up a bit, adding even more flavor. It is a pretty dense challah and tastes delicious. The final recipe is as follows:

  • 3 packets of rapid rise yeast
  • 2 cups +a little more of sugar
  • 4 cups of hot water
  • 5 lbs bread or high gluten flour
  • 3 eggs + 4 whites
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 3 tsp. + a little more salt
  • put it all in, mix in mixer
  • let it rise 2 or so hours
  • braid
  • glaze with egg (optional) and sprinkle with seeds
  • bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.

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I recently was in the home of another aunt while she was baking her challah. I remember as a child going to her house for Shabbat very often and it was as much (if not more lol) because of her amazing challah as for visiting my cousins! So I took down her recipe and tried it this past week (pictured at the beginning of article). The color and texture came out great but I think it lacked flavor. Instead of quickly resorting back to my older recipe I want to change things up a bit and possibly create another recipe maybe combining aspects of both. My next challenge is to play around with this recipe. I love the crunchy crust of this one. It is more of a water challah (less eggs and lighter, more fluffy and airy). The current recipe is:

  • 6 lbs
  • 4 oz yeast
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 tsp. + a little more salt
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • crumble yeast into 2 cups of the warm water and the sugar
  • combine the rest of ingredients, adding the water with yeast and then the remaining water slowly, turning on the mixer for a few seconds until all the water is poured in
  • mix for a few minutes
  • allow to rise for 1/2 hour -45 minutes
  • braid, glaze and apply seeds (optional)
  • place in preheated 500 degree oven for 10 minutes
  • lower to 350 degrees for one hour or until golden brown

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I will keep you posted once I have a final recipe for this one. Maybe I will just go back to my other awesome one or maybe I will have 2 great recipes to use!

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