Leshana Tova! Happy Jewish New year. I wasn’t raised in a Jewish family but I did marry into one. We aren’t observant but we want to share some of the traditions and culture with our son. So far that has meant that we read a lot of Jewish themed books, have Seder with the family and never pass up an excuse to bake a challah.
This recipe came from my mother. I remember watching with fascination as she would knead and braid these loaves. I sometimes got to punch the dough. She always made them in bulk but they never lasted more than a day. My siblings and I barely gave them a chance to cool before we would tear into them.
I still make the full recipe when I make these. I usually give one loaf away and with my husband’s help, we polish of the other just as quickly as I used to. If we can make some last till morning it also makes the best French toast.
Challah Bread makes 2 gigantic loaves
- 2 1/4 cups of warm water
- 2 packages of yeast (4 1/4 tsp)
- 1 Tbs Sugar
- 7 to 8 cups of Flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbs Salt
- 1 Stick butter melted
- 1/2 cup Honey
In a large bowl combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let it sit for a couple minutes until there is a foam on top of the water. Stir in 2 cups of flour and let it sit for a 1/2 hour. Stir in the eggs, butter, salt, and honey. Add the flour 1 cup at a time until you have a soft dough. Knead it. Let it rise until doubled in size. Punch the dough and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then make ropes and braid it. My mom always did a 3 or 4 strand braid but I like to do a six strand braid. Let it rise another half an hour and then bake it at 350 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes. Brush the top with an egg wash (1 egg with 1Tbs sugar) to get a really beautiful shine to your crust.
Traditionally, for Rosh Hashanah your challah is supposed to be round. I forgot that on my first loaf so the second braid got reshaped in a pie pan. Last time I did a round challah I made one really long rope and coiled it up like a snail shell. Either way you will love the flavor and scent of this bread.
I hope everyone has a sweet new year.