|4.9028573 (13)||rate this recipe »|
Challah, sometimes spelled Halla or Hallah, is pronounced Há La. This Jewish bread is served on Friday night for the Sabbath dinner, and for holidays. The Sabbath dinner is special and sacred; the best ingredients are used for this meal. Challah usually contained white flour and eggs, because this was considered "the best." However, whole wheat or a combination of whole wheat and white might be used.
Due to Jewish dietary laws, meat and dairy products are not served together. Therefore, the bread is traditionally made with water rather than milk, so it may be served with meat meals. The Friday night Challah is more than likely braided. It can be braided as fancy as its creator wants. The New Year's Challah is round, but others for the holiday can be round or braided.
a generous 2 tablespoons (three 1/4-ounce packets) active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 1/2 cups (approx.) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, for glaze
1 tablespoon cold water, for glaze
poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
In a small bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. In another bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add softened yeast and 4 cups flour. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. This is a sponge which has the consistency of cake batter rather than a bread dough. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise for 30 minutes; it should be light and full of tiny bubbles.
Stir the sponge to deflate it, add salt and enough flour, a little at a time, to make a kneadable dough. Turn out onto a floured surface.
Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Put dough into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into thirds. Shape each third into a rope about 20 inches long. Lay the ropes side by side on a well-greased baking sheet. Begin braiding in the center for a more balanced loaf.
Place right rope over the center rope (right rope is now the center rope), then the left over the center, right over center, etc., continuing until the ropes are too short to braid. Pinch ends together and tuck under.
To braid the other end of the loaf, turn it so the braided portion is at the top and the ropes are at the bottom. Take the center rope and lay it over the right rope (right rope now is the center), center rope over the left, until the ends are too short to braid. Pinch ends together and tuck under. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Beat egg with cold water to make an egg glaze. Brush egg glaze lightly over braid. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the braid reaches 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately remove loaf from baking sheet and cool on a rack to prevent crust from becoming soggy. Makes 1 large braid.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 2, December, 1991 issue.