I sometimes wonder what it must be like to an “outsider” to witness loaves of fresh Challah’s coming out of a Jewish woman’s oven on any given weekday in anticipation of Shabbos. Bread making from scratch is a monumental task to a novice, but once you’ve done it, you’re an instant pro, as you enjoy the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment.
Throughout the year, I make a sweetish, but not overly sweet challah. For Rosh Hashana, I top my traditional round challah’s with a sweet crumb topping instead of my usual poppy seeds. It makes for a festive and yummy start to the Yom Tov meal.
- 6 lbs. flour
- 5 Tbsp. dry yeast (not rapid rise)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 5 1/2 cups water
- 3 Tbsp. table salt
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup oil
Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of warm water. Sprinkle a bit of the sugar onto yeast. Put the rest of the sugar in the bowl with the flour. Add the salt and the eggs and stir lightly. When the yeast starts to bubble and rise, pour into mixing bowl. Start the mixer and add the remaining water to the bowl. When the water is almost completely incorporated into the dough, slowly add the oil. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl large enough to allow it to rise double in size. Alternatively, you can put a plastic tablecloth on the counter, spray with cooking spray, put the dough ball onto one half of the plastic and cover it with the other half of the plastic. Make sure the top plastic is also sprayed with oil.
Let dough rise 1 -1.5 hours. Make the bracha of L’hafrish Challah min Ha’issah and take off a small pc. of dough. Burn or discard this piece of dough according to your Rav’s directions. I make 5 large challah’s out of this dough. Divide the dough into as many challah’s as you would like to make.
To make a round shape
In all honesty, this is the one time of year, you can get away with braiding the challah dough. You can take your allotted dough and make one long rope and spiral it around and place it in a pan to bake. I like to braid the challah, but when it’s all topped, it’s hard to see the hard work you put into it.
Divide each intended challah into 4 pcs. Roll each piece into a strip and arrange in a tic tac toe interwoven pattern. Next, from each of the 4 sides, take the bottom rope and lay it over the top rope. so you are moving all the underneath ropes in the same direction. Next you will take the underneath ropes and cross them over their neighboring upper rope, going in the opposite direction as before. Then you just tuck under the loose ropes and place onto a pan or into a round pan.
Let rise another 1-1.5 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make crumb topping. Paint challah with egg and sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake for 1 hour.
- 1 stick margarine
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
Mix together in a bowl until crumbly.