Thursday, August 30, 2018

Homemade, Handmade Challah So Simple

Above are the challah ingredients, written rather simply. I keep this note on the fridge. I used to have an index card box with recipes, but they got trashed long before the cookbooks. In all honesty, I don't remember where the recipe came from. It sort of evolved, and it's a bit different every time I make it. I don't have a functioning mixer and haven't had one for ages. I bake "by hand." And I don't have the strongest of hands. It's not all that hard, though you can use a mixer dough hook if you want. The kneading will just take less time.

A few years ago, when my friend got her "new kitchen," she did a chanukat hamitbach, kitchen dedicating/opening ceremony by inviting lots of friends to a challah-baking evening. It was led by a neighbor who showed us how challah-baking is a very spiritual time, and as we physically handle the dough we should be praying and blessing our family, our children and grandchildren.

1 cup sugar (I use dark brown)
2 Tablespoons or a bit more of dehydrated yeast
approximately 2 kilo flour (I used 70% whole wheat extra fine)
pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups of warm water
1 cup of any vegetable oil
2 eggs (optional)
1 egg for painting to make a shiny challah


  1. Put almost all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl; just use a cup of flour.
  2. Mix
  3. Add the warm water.
  4. Cover with plastic.
  5. When it looks all bubbly and has risen add the oil (and eggs).
  6. Mix
  7. Gradually add flour, mixing all the time, until you can knead it.
  8. Knead for about 8 minutes.
  9. Coat completely in a bit more oil.
  10. Cover and wait until doubled in size, anything from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the weather and quality of yeast.
  11. Punch down, then cover and wait again. 
  12. "Take a piece of challah" for the blessing.
  13. Punch down and shape. The shaping as you can see in my photos can be very simple.
  14. Paint with raw egg and let the challot rise a bit.
  15. Bake. *Start in a hot oven, and then lower temperature when you can see the challah begin to brown a bit.
  16. It's ready when hard on the bottom and has a hollow sound when tapping the bottom.
  17. Let cool out of the oven.
  18. Enjoy for Shabbat, Jewish Holidays or whenever you want a special bread.
PS They freeze well.

*There are too many factors to predict exact baking time. For temperatures I think that I started baking close to 200c and ended more like 170c. But remember that each oven is different, and it depends on whether you're doing turbo and how many trays etc. Of course Farenheit numbers are different.

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