Monday Morning Cooking Club: Challah
This recipe first appeared in Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food, the stories, the sisterhood (2011). We are so thrilled that we got to share this recipe with over 2500 people at the massive challah bake in Sydney, Australia for the Shabbat Project 2014!
Chanie Wolff, the Rebbetzin from Central Synagogue, Sydney, was kind enough to share her mother in law Sonia’s much loved recipe: “Baking your own challah on a Friday is a special mitzvah (spiritual good deed) for Jewish women. I double the recipe and, before plaiting, remove a small piece of the dough and say this blessing, ‘Baruch ata adonai, elohaynu melech ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al afrashat chala.’ This is symbolic of the days of the temple and brings blessing to the home and family.”
The Ultimate Challah Recipe (Original Post)
- 1 Kg Plain (All purpose) Flour (6 2/3 cups) plus 1/2 cup extra
- 500 ml warm water (2 cups)
- 6 teaspoons dried yeast (18 g or 3 sachets)
- 170 grams Caster (Superfine) Sugar (3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2 eggs beaten
- 125 ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
- 1 egg beaten, for glazing
- poppy or sesame seeds
- Put 1 kg of the flour in a large bowl. Make a large well in the flour and add the warm water. Add the yeast and 1⁄2 cup of the sugar, stirring the yeast and water in the well until combined. Set aside for 15 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.
- Add the salt and remaining sugar to the well and mix. Wait another 5–10 minutes for the mixture to foam again.
- Add the eggs and oil and mix with a wooden spoon. Gradually incorporate the flour in the bowl into the egg mixture in the well. Once combined, tip onto a floured surface and knead. If the dough is too sticky, slowly add the extra flour. Knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth, slightly sticky dough, adding a little more flour if needed.
- Place in a large oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk (2–3 hours).
- When the dough has risen, divide it into two equal pieces. Shape each piece into a plaited loaf (see below).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Place the loaves on a lined baking tray and allow them to rise for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the seeds. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden in colour. Remove from the tray and allow to cool. Makes 2 challahs.
- Three-strand challah: The simplest way to plait a challah is to divide the dough into three long strands. Pinch them together at the end and plait as you would plait hair. Pinch together the other end to join and tuck under. See below for instructions to plait a six strand challah.
To start, pinch the six strands together at the top and tuck under.
Take the two outside strands and (starting with the left) cross them to the opposite side.
Take the first from the right and place it in the middle.
Then start the mantra:
Second from the left across
First from the left to the middle
Second from the right across
First from the right to the middle
Repeat until the plait is finished.
Pinch the ends of the strands together and tuck under.
Check out the full braiding video here:
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