Saturday, September 24, 2011

Makes You Want to be Jewish Challah

Did anyone know that Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year) is this week? When did this happen?? Why did nobody tell me?

Do you know what this means? Two food-laden days (well, three if you count Shabbat). Full of baked goods. And I'm nowhere near prepared.

Time to start making absolutely ridiculous amounts of food. Let's start with Challah. I can take no credit for this recipe, but I can tell you that for the love of this absolutely chewy Challah, I will actually MEASURE all my ingredients. This, folks, is a big deal.

75% whole wheat version

It's pretty easy to make, and has enough yeast in it that you don't need to wait very long to reap the benefits. A cautionary word, however, with this much yeast you don't want to let it rise too long, or else it might sort of deflate when you bump it. And don't skimp on the egg wash... it's what makes the crust so lovely!

white flour version

We prefer the whole wheat version, but that's because we're so crunchy granola that we have our babies at home. You can make white bread and we promise not to judge.

More holiday recipes coming soon! We'll make up for this past week's I've-been-sick-and-my-husband-hogs-the-computer lean stretch of not enough baked goods.

The Best Chewy Challah
Adapted from Secrets of a Jewish Baker

1 cup warm water
1.5 tablespoons yeast
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 c plus 1.5 teaspoons sugar (or honey)
2 teaspoons salt 
4 to 4.5 cups flour (if making whole wheat, use 3.5 cups whole wheat and 1 cup white)

Combine warm water, 1.5 teaspoons sugar, and yeast in a food processer (using the steel blade) or in a mixing bowl. Wait until frothy or bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add eggs, remaining sugar, and oil. Add 4 cups of flour with salt (adding salt directly to the yeast will kill it) and mix well. Add up to another 1/2 cup if the dough is really sticky, however the dough should be somewhat sticky to the touch. Knead well- this helps to develop the gluten and contributes to the chewyness (yes that is a word) of the challah.

Cover with oil and let rise for an hour. You know it's risen enough if you poke the dough and it does not spring back (the hole does not start to close).

Shape into two loaves. Mix the remaining egg whites with 1-2 tablespoons water, and use as egg wash. Shape your challot, and brush with the wash. Allow the wash to dry and brush again. Let rise for an hour. 

Bake at 350F for ~25-35 minutes (closer to 25 if it's convection or your thermometer is totally off). Put the bread on pans in the center of the oven, and do not place items above or below. How do you know it's done? 1) tap the bottom (don't burn yourself), it should sound hollow. Also, when you look in the crevices, it should not look doughy, and the tops should be a dark brown color. 


  1. Looks so good!! If only I were Jewish. :( It looks like two different versions tho. The top one almost looks like a glazed braided pastry.

  2. Gorgeous! So glad I'm already Jewish!

  3. Jeff- you're right.... I added captions for the different amounts of whole wheat flour. Now I have the urge to make pastries... hmmm :)