What is a good Jewish wife without her challah recipe? nothing I tell you… nothing.
I, for one, never liked baking challah. It’s so much easier to run to the store and pick out the softest loaf you find on the shelf. Some Jewish women feel connected to the mitzvah, and baking challah does something incredible for their soul. All it does for me is usually get me frustrated and covered in flour. But of course, homemade challah is 100 times better than store-bought, so I force myself to bake challah almost every shabbat.
When I first got married, I felt this was mandatory, and tried every recipe I could find/get from my mom. Then we went through a stage where store-bought challah was just going to have to work. And finally, I found the perfect recipe which I will probably use forever. I think I love this recipe so much because it always comes out well, and it makes so much dough that I can usually freeze raw loaves so I don’t have to make challah every shabbat.
Many of you have probably heard of this recipe or even made it – it’s the 5lb bag of flour recipe from the Kosher Palette (published by the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and edited by Susie Fishbein and Sandra Blank). I know it’s Saturday night, and none of you are making challah right now (or if you are, you’re crazy), but when I took the pictures on Friday it would have been too late for you to make it anyway. So here it is…
- 9 tsp active dry yeast (the real recipe calls for fresh yeast, but this works for me)
- 4 Cups warm water
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 5lb bag of all purpose flour
- 2 Cups sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbs salt
- 3 Large eggs
- 1 1/2 Cups canola oil
- 1 Egg
Directions (from memory)
- Set your oven to 300° F.
- In a medium bowl, mix the yeast, water and sugar. Open the over door and place the bowl on the open oven door. The yeast should begin to bubble/foam/do something. If it doesn’t – your yeast is bad. Go back to the store and get new yeast or your challahs won’t rise.
- In a huge bowl (I actually use a huge soup pot), pour the flour in, then take out two cups of flour and set aside. Add sugar and salt to flour and mix. Make a ‘well’ with the flour in the bowl. (push the flour up the sides of the bowl so there is sort of a hole in the middle)
- Add the yeast mixture, the 3 eggs, and the canola oil.
- The real recipe says to mix with a wooden spoon until it’s too hard, but nothing about mixing challah dough is particularly easy – so make sure your hands and arms are washed well and just go for it.
- Mix until the dough forms, and is no longer sticking to the sides (you may need to add from the flour you set aside little by little). At this point, most challah recipes say to knead for 10 minutes – they must be joking though.. right?
- Brush with oil, cover with saran wrap and a towel, and let rise in a warm room for 1 1/2-2 hrs or until the size of the dough has doubled.
- Once the dough has risen, do hafrashat challah.
- Now shape your dough in whichever way you to like to. 3 strands is always easiest for me, but if you want to tackle the six strand, by all means. This recipe makes a whole bunch of loaves – bake what you need and freeze unbaked loaves (wrapped 3 times in saran wrap, and 3 times in foil).
- Let rise for another 45 min – 1 hour.
- Set the oven to 350° F. Beat the last egg and brush the challahs lightly. Then add sesame seeds, poppy seeds or streusel topping and bake for 25-35 minutes.
An NCSY advisor friend of mine once put parve white chocolate chips into this recipe. It is absolutely heavenly. I normally don’t love white chocolate, but the parve ones are mostly sugar and melt into delicious sugary spots throughout the loaf. I suggest everyone do this.. at least once…so when you do, just mush a bunch of white chocolate chips into the dough as you’re shaping it.
- 1 Cup flour
- 1 Cup sugar
- 8 Tbs canola oil
– Mix ingredients and sugar-coat your challah. This amount is probably enough if you were making the entire dough.
Don’t count your calories, or you’ll just hate yourself forever.