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Making Challah Bread for the Holidays

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November 26, 2012

Challah is a special Jewish bread that is served on holidays and the Sabbath. The bread is incredibly unique as it does not include the typical bread ingredients of milk or butter. Instead it incorporates numerous eggs. Even if you aren’t Jewish you can incorporate Challah into your holiday season for a truly beautiful and tasty treat. I made Challah for the first time this Thanksgiving and it will definitely continue to be a staple for family get-togethers and special meals for years to come.

I love baking bread, but I tend to stick to breads that require only one rise.  However, after baking Challah I will certainly be experimenting with longer rise breads. I do a lot of baking and baking Challah was certainly unique and almost magical. The dough is so fluffy and since baking Challah is an all-day affair, it is amazing to see the finished product.

So how do you make Challah? The recipe I used is from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. I loved that she provided very detailed instructions for every single step of the process. Challah can seem intimidating to make, but these instructions made it incredibly easy to follow. To make this recipe you will only need the following ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Honey
  • Canola Oil
  • Salt

I made simple Challah without any toppings, but as she describes you can easily top the bread with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or kosher salt. If you are craving something sweet you can add chocolate chips or raisins into the bread as well. I went with the simple bread without any toppings and it was a huge hit.

Challah can be cooked in simple rolls, but what fun is that! Instead braid your bread for a gorgeous loaf that looks like something straight out of an upscale bakery. Braiding the bread is actually pretty simple if you know how to braid hair. I doubled the recipe and had a crazy amount of dough. Unless you are feeling like feeding an army you will not need to double! I ended up with one huge loaf, 2 large loaves, 4 medium-sized snail shaped rolls, and one linked loops roll shaped roll. I did a simple three strand braid for my braided loaves, but if you are feeling extra artsy you can do a 4 or 6 strand braid as well.

The Shiksa in the Kitchen has another fantastic tutorial on braiding that can be found here. The most important thing to remember when braiding is to start in the middle of the braid like she suggests. This will keep the braid looking more even overall.

Do you have experience making Challah? If so, what is your favorite braid?

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