Make it. Eat it. Love it.
Challah, a Jewish braided egg bread that is traditionally eaten on the Sabbath and most Jewish holidays is one of those special treats that one would welcome at any and every meal.
The word challah originally referred to a piece of the bread that was set aside and baked separately and given to the temple priest. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, women would set a piece of bread (challah) aside and burn it in remembrance of the priests portion. Today the entire loaf of braided bread is referred to as Challah.
Growing up I remember my mom always buying challah at the local bakery and up until recently I would do the same. I have always heard that challah is difficult to make and thought why should I bother when I can buy it? Then I met my husband. He took me to his mothers house one night for a Shabbos meal and out on the table were 2 baskets filled with hot, fresh, homemade challah. Im actually surprised my husband took me back to her home after I embarrassingly hoarded all the challah and ate it until there was none left. The first thing I said when leaving instead of your normal “thank you for having me” was “can I get that challah recipe?” Lucky for me not only did she give me her recipe (which yields 7, yes 7, loaves) but she also handed me an extra loaf she had in the kitchen.
I have been making my mother-in-laws challah ever since, following the recipe to a tee. Last week I decided to do something crazy, I changed it. I added chopped apples and some cinnamon and then ate it with some cinnamon butter. Heaven. I originally made it for my dad’s visit to Israel since it was all he requested (he loves her challah that much too). Unfortunately for him, the 2 loaves I made didn’t last very long and all but 2 slices were left when he got here.
Challah is easy to make, despite what you may think. The beautifully braided bread may seem intimidating at first but is well worth the effort and time put into making it.
If you want my mother-in-law’s perfect as is challah, just leave out the apples and cinnamon and add poppy seeds or sesame seeds to top after egg wash.
Ingredients (makes 2)
1/4 oz (about 2.8 Tablespoons.) instant yeast
1.2 teaspoon sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2.8 teaspoons salt
1.2 cups boiling water
2 pounds flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 apple, pealed and cut into small chunks
1 egg, beaten
In a medium mixing bowl mix together yeast, 1.2 teaspoons sugar, flour and cinnamon and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl mix together oil, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and boiling water and set aside.
In a large bowl beat eggs and add oil mixture and mix together using a wooden spoon.
Slowly add flour mixture and mix until a sticky dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for 5-7 minutes.
Flatten dough out into a disk and fold in apple pieces.
Clean the large mixing bowl and coat with oil.
Place dough into oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel.
Let rise in a warm dry area for at least 2 hours (dough with double in size).
Pre heat oven to 350F and liberally grease 2 baking sheets.
Once dough has risen cut into 2 equal pieces using a sharp knife.
Take each piece of dough and cut into 3 equal pieces.
Roll out each piece into a long cylinder shape and lay side by side.
Pinch the ends of the dough together and braid (just like when you braid hair)
When done braiding, pinch the ends together tightly.
In a small dish beat egg and brush on top of challah.
Bake each loaf of challah separately for 30-35 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
Let cool completely or serve warm with butter, jam or cinnamon butter.