Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The best bread in Israel.

Or anywhere else for that matter. When We were dating, my husband made this bread, which was yards better than any Challah I'd ever made or tasted, but he refused to give me the recipe until we were married. Now I make the bread, and I can give the recipe out, and you don't even have to marry me to get it. The best part about this Challah is that it is moist and dense rather than bland and fluffy like many Challah recipes. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. If you'd rather I made it, stop by my house any Friday night.

Challah (mix it up on Thursday night!)
4 1/2 C warmish hot water
1 1/2 c sugar
7 tsp yeast
7 egg yolks
¾ c oil (olive is best, but any kind works)
4 Tb Salt
5 Lb flour
1 egg
3 Tb sesame or poppy seeds.

In a large bowl mix the water and sugar, then add the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, oil, sugar, and salt and mix thoroughly. Slowly begin adding flour, mixing completely each time. After a while it will be impossible to stir, so turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading in the rest of the flour (it all has to go in for halachic reasons. If you find the dough is too dry, add more water.) Put dough ball into LARGE (really large) oiled bowl or pot, cover with plastic wrap (spray the top of the dough ball with pam or oil to keep it from sticking) and let rise overnight in a warm place, or at least 6 hours. The longer it rises, the better the flavor, punch it down a few times if you need to. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, separate challah with a bracha, and burn the portion. Cut the dough into the desired number of loaves (I make 12 loaves, but they are small. It makes 6 large loaves nicely), then cut the loaf section into 6 pieces and braid. (If you want to learn this, it is explained in the Spice and Spirit cookbook. It takes some practice to be fast at it, but the result is worth the effort.) Place braided loaves onflat pans lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and place in a warm spot for 40-60 minutes, until the loaves have approximately doubled in size (if you are pressed for time, you can put the loaves in to bake right away, but they won’t be as pretty or soft). Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375. Take the last whole egg and beat it with a little water to make an egg wash. Use a brush to coat each loaf with the egg wash, the sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or both. Place pans in the oven for about 35 minutes, until the tops are light brown and when you tap on the top of a loaf it is hollow sounding. If you have to use 2 racks because it is a small
oven, switch the pans from top to bottom to ensure even cooking. The secret to nice challah is to not over-cook it. Trust me. People prefer things slightly underdone, whether they realize it or not.

There's the big secret. It was worth marrying the guy just to get this fantastic recipe! If I get requests for them I'll put up some other Shabbat food. We make killer Matza Ball soup in this house.


It All Started With a Kiss said...

Thanks for the recipe! That was a fast response! It sounds absolutely delicious.

Lori's Light Extemporanea said...

It does sound wonderful. I'll have to try some tonight, as we're out of bread in the house. Is extra virgin olive oil ok or is it too strong?

the rabbi's wife said...

Extra virgin works fine. the bread has a strong flavor to begin with (long rising) so you could use almost any oil and it wouldn't be too strong. Walnut oil might be a stretch, but I know someone who used sesame once and it tasted great.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful sounding recipe! I will have to try this when we have some eggs.

Thanks, Mrs. Robin Stokes

Carrien said...

I came back tonight ready to give this recipe a go. But I'm intimidated by the 5 pounds of flour. :)

I even thought I'd do some tricky math to half or 5th the recipe but you were right, it's very hard. MY head hurts from the figuring.

I don't think I have a bowl large enough, or a kneading board for that matter, that can deal with that much bread dough at one time.

Sigh. But I really want to make it.

Maybe next week at my MIL's. She has a big kitchen, and a large marble bread board, and big bowls. Yes, I will try it then.

Shabbat Shalom

M3isMe said...

Five pounds of flour?! Oh, goodness...I'm intimidated, too.

the rabbi's wife said...

It's not so intimidating, I promise. Since I married My husband I estimate I've made the recipe nearly 250 times, and it comes together easily. You can even start it out in a Kitchenaid and knead in the last pound or so of flour by hand. I've got a big momma KA and I can get all but a cup or two of the flour in! I'll try too do step-by-step pictures of mine next week, if my camera ever arrives.

Anonymous said...

(((hugs))) I hope you are feeling much better today!

Ket said...

don't even ask me how i found this post -- i can't remember myself. but i think it all started back with this zany mormon girl in indiana...


please explain to the gentile: "separate challah with a bracha, and burn the portion."

say huh?

the rabbi's wife said...

An explanation for the Gentile:
In the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) there are some commandments for us to follow. Not 10, 613. Starts with G-d saying to us "be fruitful and multiply" and goes from there. When we are able to fulfill one of these precepts (mitzvot in Hebrew) we say a blessing to remind us that it was given to us to lead a spiritually uplifted life. They follow a form. so, for separating Challah (commanded in Numbers 15:17-21) it is Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, king of the universe, who has blessed us with his commandments and commanded us regarding the separation of Challah.
Now, because there is no Temple nor Priests to receive it (we know who the families are, but they don't get the tithes any longer, the poor do) we still separate the portion (the size of an egg from the whole batch) and it is holy, but what to do? Burning it to make it unfit for any other purpose and to keep us from wanting to eat it ourselves is what we do. this portion is called Challah, and is where the bread gets it's name, not the other way around.
Wow, this is long! sorry. Does it make sense?

Ket said...

yes. the Gentile appreciates the explanation.

but what do you do with the Challah itself? (no wait, don't tell me - no, do.)

and is the bracha the blessing? or is it a thing?

this is so interesting....