This may take up to thirty seconds.
Balsamic Apple Date Challah by Shannon Sarna
Shannon Sarna, of The Nosher, introduces this recipe: This is one of my absolute favorite challah recipes and it is featured in my book Modern Jewish Baker. When you bake these sweet loaves the entire house smells like a big warm hug of spice and deliciousness. And it simply screams Rosh Hashanah. The middle is stuffed with a homemade apple date and wine filling. But if you’re short on time or simply don’t feel like making the filling, try using an apple butter or date jam instead. You can stuff it round, or stuff it into a three strand challah as well. Any way you bake or slice it, I know you’ll love this flavor as much as I do.
For the challah dough:
4 1/2-5 cups King Arthur bread flour
½ cup sugar
½ Tbsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ Tbsp yeast + 1 tsp sugar
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
2 whole eggs
For the filling:
3 gala apples, peeled and diced
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
½ tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup water
¼ cup red wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
For top of challah:
1 egg, beaten + 1 tsp honey
thick sea salt (optional)
cinnamon sugar (optional)
1) In a small bowl, place yeast, 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
2) In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil. Mix thoroughly.
3) Add another cup of flour and eggs until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
4) Add another 1 1/2 cups flour and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 10 minutes (or however long your hands will last).
5) Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise 3-4 hours.
6) To make the filling, place apples, dates, salt, cinnamon stick, water, red wine and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer on medium heat until the mixture is reduced. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer another 2-3 minutes. The mixture will cook around 10-15 minutes in total.
7) Remove from the heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.
8) Place mixture in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until smooth.
9) After the challah is done rising, cut the dough in half. To be as precise as possible, use a scale to measure the weight.
10) Roll the first ball out using a rolling pin into a rectangle. Spread around half, perhaps slightly less, of the apple-date mixture in an even layer, leaving 1/2 inch all around without filling. Working quickly, start rolling up the dough towards you. Try and keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Pinch the end when you finish.
11) Create a pinwheel shaped-challah by snaking the dough around and around in a circle around itself. When finished, tuck the end under the challah neatly and pinch lightly. This doesn’t have to be perfect – remember, as long as it tastes good, almost no one (maybe except that judgmental great aunt) will care what it looks like.
12) Repeat with other half of dough.
13) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
14) Allow challahs to rise another 30-45 minutes, or until you can see the the size has grown. Beat 1 egg with 1 tsp of honey. Brush liberally over each challah. Top challah with thick sea salt and cinnamon sugar if desired.
15) Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until middle looks like it has just set, and the color is golden.
Besides the occasional pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I didn’t grow up eating a lot of pumpkin-flavored dishes. Instead, the women in my Japanese American family made stewed kabocha at this time of year. Whenever I see kabocha at the store, it takes me back to the delicious aroma of sweet kabocha stewed with soy sauce...
When I got to college and started cooking for myself, I tried my hand at the pumpkin soups, pies and baked goods I’d see in magazines at this time of year. Each time, I felt disappointed by the relatively mellow and mild flavor. Even the shade of orange was mellow and mild.
This year, I decided to make a kabocha challah for fall Shabbat dinners. The color is beautifully vibrant and the flavor has more depth and is more complex (savory and sweet at the same time!) than that of its sugar pumpkin cousin. You’ll have extra puréed kabocha and can use it to make this kabocha soup.
Makes: 2 large challahs
Total Cooking time: 5 hours
Active Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Kitchen Aid Mixer with whisk and dough hook attachments*
Large mixing bowl
Food processor or immersion blender
*can be made without Kitchen Aid mixer
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup white cane sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
2/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups kabocha squash puree
8 cups bread flour
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons everything bagel mix
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Take 9 eggs out of the refrigerator.
To make the kabocha purée, boil a big pot of water with a generous dash of salt. While the water is boiling, cut and seed the kabocha, removing the bottom and stem (if it has one). Cut it into about 2” squares and cut the green skin away, discarding it. Place the kabocha squares into the pot of boiling water and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, checking with a fork to see if it’s finished cooking. It should be easily pierced through the middle without much resistance, but not fall apart. Purée in a food processor or with immersion blender. Reserve 2 cups for the challah.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl.
Using a candy thermometer, check to make sure it is about 110°F. Pour in the two packets of
dry yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar (from the 1/3 cup) into the bowl. Stir gently to dissolve
everything into the water. Set the bowl aside for 15 minutes.
Your yeast mixture should look foamy at the end of the 15 minutes. If it does not, you need to get new yeast and start over or your challah will not rise. Better to find out now, rather than later!
Now that your yeast is activated, add the remaining lukewarm water to the bowl, then the
remainder of the sugar, egg, 6 egg yolks, honey, oil, salt and spices. Whisk on medium speed.
Once everything is evenly incorporated, add your kabocha puree and keep whisking.
Once the mixture is smooth, thick, and bright orange, change out your whisk for a dough hook.
Add each cup of flour slowly on low speed. With a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides
down with each addition. When you’re on the 7th or 8th cup, the dough will become too
thick for your mixer. At this point, you can start to knead with your hands. When you’re done,
the dough should be smooth and stretchy but not super sticky. If you need to, add a bit more
flour until you reach this consistency.
Oil the entire inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil. Place dough in this bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. I like to put my dough in my oven (but not turn it on).
After 1 hour, punch the dough back down to remove the air and let it rise again for another
After another hour, punch the dough down again and knead it into a smooth ball on a floured
countertop. Cut the ball in half with a pastry scraper.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the egg yolks and water in a small
bowl with a small whisk.
Now it’s time for braiding! There are many different ways to braid challah, and I prefer the look of the 4-strand braid because it’s simple but still looks impressive! I like to use Tori Avey’s 4-Strand Braided Challah tutorial.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Using a pastry brush, generously apply egg wash to each of your challahs. Generously sprinkle them with everything bagel mix, black and white sesame seeds in sections (see photo). Alternatively, you can also just season it generously with everything bagel mix and let them rise for 30 more minutes.
Bake challah for 40 minutes, but set your timer for 30 minutes. At this point, check on your
challah to see if it needs to be rotated. If it’s browning quite quickly, you may need to cover it
with foil for the remainder of the cooking time. Shabbat Shalom!
Gluten-Free Challah Crown by gfJules
This popular recipe works very well with gfJules Flour. All gluten-free flour blends work quite differently, and this one has been specifically written to be at its most beautiful and delicious with the gfJules Flour blend.
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs. warm water
1 package rapid rise gf yeast
1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
1 cup vanilla dairy or non-dairy yogurt, at room temperature
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
5 large egg yolks at room temperature (slightly mixed)
1/3 cup sunflower oil, non-GMO canola oil OR extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbs. honey, agave nectar or molasses
4 cups (540 grams) gfJules all-purpose gluten-free flour
3 Tbs. + 2 tsp. granulated cane sugar
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg, mixed
poppy seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, or other topping or mix-in (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200º F, then turn it off; if you have a warming drawer, you may set that to low/moist setting instead. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together 1/3 cup (5 Tbs) warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to proof the yeast; set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the remaining wet ingredients (including 2 more tablespoons warm water) and mix until combined. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
After 5 minutes of proofing, stir in the yeast-water mixture into the wet ingredients (note: if your yeast isn’t bubbling at this point, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast). Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until fully integrated, adding more warm water by the tablespoon as needed to get the dough soft and so that the dough is not tight or stiff — you should be able to pull the dough gently without it feeling tight or like it would bounce back — if it’s stiff, then add more warm water then mix 1-2 minutes more on medium speed.
Using either method, once the dough is combined, divide it in half and divide each half into three equally-sized balls. The dough will be sticky, so use extra flour on your hands and rolling surface (I like using a bench scraper to help me cut and roll the sticky dough).
Roll each ball out into an 18-inch coil or log on a clean, flat surface dusted lightly with flour. Pinch together one end of each coil, wetting them slightly with water to help them join together at the top, then braid them, finishing by connecting them to the top of the other end in order to form a crown, or circular shape, or simply leave as a long braid.
Gently transfer it to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for the second set of three balls. In the alternative, you can simply divide the dough in half, roll out into a flattened coil, then twist upon itself and join at the ends to form a circular loaf; repeat with the other half of the dough ball.
In a small bowl, mix the extra egg together and brush over each loaf well, coating the entire top surface. Sprinkle the seeds or any toppings at this point, then place the tray (covering the loaves with wax paper sprayed with cooking oil) in a warming drawer set to low heat, or into a warm location for 20 – 30 minutes. (Don’t expect the bread to rise much at this stage).
Once risen slightly, place the uncovered tray in an oven preheated to 350º F (static) or 325º F (convection) for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out dry, or with some crumbs attached but no wet dough.
Remove to cool on a wire rack.
Maple-Glazed Vegan Challah by Miri Rotkovitz on Spruce Eats
For the Challah:
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup oil (neutral-flavored such as grapeseed or canola, plus additional for oiling the bowl)
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt (kosher salt or pink Himalayan sea salt)
For the Glaze:
1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons soy milk (or other non-dairy milk substitute)
Hand or Stand Mixer Method
Place the warm water in a large bowl or stand mixer. Add a pinch of the sugar to the bowl and sprinkle with the yeast. Set aside in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is foamy. (If your yeast doesn't proof properly, discard the mixture and start again with fresh yeast).
With a hand whisk or the mixer's whisk attachment, mix in the sugar, oil, 2 cups of flour, and salt. Switch to a sturdy wooden spoon or the mixer's dough hook, and add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition until a shaggy dough forms and begins to pull into a ball. (You might or might not need the last 1/2 cup of flour. If the dough is very wet or sticky, add it. If not, use some of it to dust your work surface.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With clean, floured hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes while you clean and dry the large mixing bowl. Grease the inside of the bowl with a bit of oil. Place the challah dough in the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the dough has risen to at least double its bulk, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Punch the dough down. Lightly grease one or two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Shape or braid the dough as desired. (The recipe will make 1 large challah, 2 medium challahs, 1 medium challah plus 6 challah rolls, or 12 challah rolls.)
Place the shaped challah and/or rolls on the baking sheet(s) and cover with clean, dry tea towels. Allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 350 F. While the oven is heating, make the maple wash by whisking together the maple syrup and soy milk. Brush over the challah with a pastry brush. Bake the challah until the crust is a deep golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 to 35 minutes for a large challah, 20 to 25 minutes for a medium challah, and 15 to 20 minutes for rolls. Cool on a wire rack.
Bread Machine Method
Place the ingredients in the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select "Dough Cycle." When the cycle ends, remove the dough from the machine.
Shape as desired and transfer to prepared baking pans. Allow the challah to rise, covered lightly with a clean, slightly damp tea towel, for 30 minutes to an hour or until doubled in size. Brush with the maple mixture.
Bake in a heated 350 F oven until the crust is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 to 35 minutes for a large challah, 20 to 25 minutes for a medium challah, and 15 to 20 minutes for rolls. Cool on a wire rack.
Spruce Eats featuring Miri Rotkovitz: https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegan-water-challah-2121423
Apple and Honey Challah from Smitten Kitchen
I’ve adapted my challah formula over the years from Joan Nathan’s, and I find her tips about three risings (which won’t take as long as it sounds, promise) and two brushes with egg wash spot on. If you’re looking for a basic challah recipe, here you go. But this one is especially fun for right now, as apples and honey are traditionally eaten together on the Jewish New Year, which begins tonight. And can you imagine how awesome the leftovers will be for French toast?
I didn’t put any cinnamon in this; I was hoping it would taste foremost like apples and honey but if you’d like cinnamon in there, you could toss the apple chunks with a teaspoon of it. The apples will bake down into almost sauce-like puddles and they manage to remain a little tart. The honey flavor isn’t aggressive, mostly because I didn’t want the challah to be overly sweet (we serve it at dinner, not dessert) but you can always increase the level or just serve it with more honey. I was dubious about the sugar on top of the loaf at first, but ended up enjoying the way it brought out the subtle sweetness of the bread.
One tip: If you measure your oil in your 1/3 cup measuring cup first, and then your honey, the honey will slide right out.
Makes 1 round woven challah
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard 1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
1/3 cup (79 ml) plus 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup (79 ml) neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
4 1/4 cups all-purpose (530 grams) or bread flour (578 grams), plus more for your work surface
2 medium baking apples (I love baking with MacIntoshes), peeled, cored and in 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks
Squeeze of lemon juice, to keep them from browning
1 large egg
Coarse or pearl sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Make your dough: Whisk yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into 2/3 cup warm water and let stand until foamy, a few minutes.
With a stand mixer: In the bowl of a stand mixture, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, remaining honey (1/3 cup), eggs and yolk. Switch to dough hook and add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt. Use dough hook on a moderate speed until it pulls all of the flour and wet ingredients together into a craggy mass. Lower the speed and let the dough hook knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth, elastic and a little sticky.
By hand:: In a large bowl, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, remaining honey (1/3 cup), eggs and yolk. Add flour and salt all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until you get a craggy mass of uneven dough. Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead it into a smooth, elastic dough, about 5 to 8 minutes. Try to use as little flour as necessary when kneading the dough; you don’t want to toughen the bread. A bench scraper can make it really easy to remove it from the counter if it gets stuck in a spot. [More bread tips here.]
Both methods: Transfer dough to large oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
Add apples to dough: [See photos in post.] Turn dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it down into a flat, oblong shape. The shape does not matter so however it goes, it goes. Spread 2/3 of apple chunks over 1/2 of the flattened dough. Fold the other half over the apple chunks and press the dough down around them, flattening the now lumpy dough. Spread the remaining 1/3 apple chunks over half the folded dough. Fold the other half over the apples, pressing the dough down again. Your dough packet will likely be square-ish. Fold the corners under with the sides of your hands and form the dough into a round. Upend your empty bowl over and set it aside for another 30 minutes.
Weave your bread: [See photos in post.] Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll and stretch each one as carefully as you can into a rope — don’t worry about getting it too long or thin, just 12 inches or so should do. If any apple chunks fall out as you form the ropes or at any other time in the forming of the loaf or risings, just poke them back in with your finger.
Arrange two strands in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a plus sign. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet. So, now you’ve got an 8-legged woven-headed octopus. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move them over the leg to their right, i.e. jumping it. Take those legs that were on the right and again, jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. If you had extra length to your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. For me, this was enough. Just as you had with the folded packet of apple dough above, tuck the corners/odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.
Transfer the dough to a parchment-covered heavy baking sheet or baker’s peel (if you’ll be using a bread stone). Beat egg until smooth and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Bake your loaf: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you’re using it. Bake in middle of oven for 40 to 45 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed; if yours (like mine, except I didn’t catch it in time) starts getting too dark too quickly, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. The very best way to check for doneness in any bread but especially on like this where the wetness of the apples can slow down the baking time a bit, is with an instant read thermometer — the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.
Cool loaf on a rack before serving. Or, well, good luck with that.
Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2011/09/apple-and-honey-challah/
Finally, time to begin eating! Challah is a yummy egg bread eaten on most Jewish holidays. On Rosh Hashanah the challah is in the shape of a circle, to symbolize the circle of time, and the fullness of the year that is coming. Many people eat raisin challah on Rosh Hashanah, and drizzle honey on top of it, for extra sweetness. Yum!
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
הַמּֽוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam,
hamotzi lekhem min ha-aretz.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God,Ruler of the universe,
Who brings forth bread from the earth.
A round challah is one of many ways that we make regular foods extra special in celebration of the New Year. This year, kick your challah-making game up a notch with step-by-step instructions on how to shape them. This video tutorial by Tina Wasserman will show you two different methods of shaping your challah dough into a round loaf.
By Tina Wasserman
Normally, two loaves of elongated challah are served for Shabbat, but for the High Holidays a round challah, sometimes containing raisins, is customary. The round challah is fraught with meaning. It is symbolic of the crown of God, our Sovereign; it represents a year filled with neverending good. A ladder of dough placed on top represents the question of who will ascend or descend in health or wealth in the coming year. A lesser known custom is to bake the challah in the shape of a bird, based on Isaiah 31:5, “As hovering birds, so will the Eternal protect Jerusalem.”
Moist, cake-like challah is a big hit at my Rosh HaShanah open house. Divide the dough into two-thirds and one-third to make two loaves, but never use all the dough to make one giant crown, or the center will surely be raw after the normal baking time is reached.
Makes 2-3 loaves
7–8 cups bread flour, divided use
2 packages rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water
2 sticks pareve margarine, butter, or 1/2 cup oil and 1 stick margarine
1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup raisins (optional)
Egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- In a large mixer bowl combine 6 cups of the flour and the yeast. Stir to combine.
- Heat the water, margarine, food coloring, sugar, poppy seeds, and salt in a saucepan until very warm (140°F). Water should be uncomfortably hot to your finger but not hot enough to burn you. (It will feel like hot tap water.)
- Add the warm liquid mixture to the flour while the mixer is on low. As the liquid is being incorporated, add the eggs. Mix thoroughly.
- Gradually add the remaining flour only until a fairly firm dough is formed. This process should take about 7 minutes whether you are using the dough hook on your mixer or are kneading it by hand. The mixture will be satiny smooth.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F for 1 minute. Lightly grease a bowl with some oil, and turn the dough in the bowl to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the turned off oven until doubled in size, about 30–45 minutes.
- Punch down the dough and divide in half or in thirds. Roll each piece into a rope about 15 inches long. Hold one end 2 inches above the work surface and wrap the rest of the dough around it to make a large coil. Pinch the ends together to prevent unraveling while baking. Place the formed breads on parchment-lined or greased cookie sheets, and let rise in the previously warmed oven until light and doubled, about 25 minutes.
- Remove loaves from oven and reduce to 375°F. Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash and bake for 25–35 minutes, depending on the size of the loaves. When the bread is done, it will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped.
The ballpark meets the Shabbos table! Hot pretzel taste in challah form, it does take a bit of care to get this large challah boiled, but it is worth it. Or go ahead and make small loaves or rolls.
Makes 2 full loaves
- 2 tablespoons bread machine yeast or active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 6 cups bread flour
- 8 cups water at room temperature
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- Pretzel salt, kosher salt, or sesame seeds
- Mustard, optional for dipping
1. In a medium glass or Pyrex bowl or measuring cup, place the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ½ cup lukewarm water. Proof the yeast: it should show signs of life by expanding, slightly bubbling, or moving. If none of these things happened, your yeast is dead. Spill it out and start again.
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, on medium-low speed, mix the 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 cups water, fine sea salt, and oil. This can also be done by hand with a whisk.
3. When the yeast has been “proofed” and shows signs that it is alive, beat the yeast mixture into the mixing bowl. With the mixer at a low speed, add the flour. Raise speed to medium and knead for 4–5 minutes until a nice, smooth, satiny dough forms. It will have almost a matte finish. If you are kneading in the flour by hand, it may take a few minutes longer to get a good smooth texture. Cover the bowl of dough with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 11/2 hours or until doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
5. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. If the dough is sticky, knead in flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough is easy to roll. Divide the dough in half. Divide each half into 3 balls and roll each into a long strand. Braid each challah using 3 strands of dough. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Set aside to rise while you prepare the next step.
6. Bring the 8 cups water and baking soda to a boil in a pot with the widest opening. Gently and carefully, lower one challah into the baking soda solution. Using 2 wooden spoons, carefully turn the challah so both sides get a good exposure to the water or bathe the top of the challah with spoonfuls of the solution. After 30 seconds remove the challah to the parchment-lined pan, using the 2 spoons to support it. Repeat with the second challah.
7. Once both challahs are back on the pan, brush with the water from the pot and sprinkle with salt or sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 30 minutes. Best served warm or rewarmed. Serve with mustard.
Unlike most challah recipes, this one can’t be frozen because the challah will get soggy when it is defrosted and reheated. In fact, it is best made fresh or at most one day ahead, but cool completely before putting in a plastic bag and rewarm before serving. You can order pretzel salt from the internet or save the packets from boxes of store-bought frozen hot pretzels. A selection of mustards, such as spicy brown, coarse grain, and honey-mustard, will make this a home run.
From Susie Fishbein on jamiegeller.com
At the ripe old age of 27, I learned to bake my first challah. My teacher was none other than the late Robbie McConnell, former Publisher of the Montreal Gazette. Using his recipe as the foundation for my challah, join me in adding kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), courtesy of the one and only Kristin Eriko Posner of Nourish Co., and a splash of 100% “True North strong and free” maple syrup! My friend and fellow member of the Jewpanese tribe Lauren Schreiber Sasaki of Jewish& took this vibrant yet delicate dough that celebrates my multiple identities and gave it her own little extra zazz by making them pumpkin shaped, inspired by Rebekah Lowin. May the Jewpanese community cooking continue to grow! Chag Sukkot Sameach :)
Neutral-flavoured oil (i.e. corn, grape seed, etc.)
Unbleached all-purpose flour
Poppy seeds, black or white sesame seeds (preferably already toasted, can be found in Asian supermarkets)
Maldon sea salt flakes
1. Cut kabocha in half
2. Scoop out seeds
3. Brush with oil
4. Bake at 350 F until soft when you can poke your fork through easily and when you see it begin to caramelize around the edges.
5. Let cool.
6. Scoop out 1 cup’s worth of the orange flesh into a food processor. It’s easier to add part of the egg mixture so that it blends more smoothly. Make sure kabocha has cooled, otherwise you’ll cook the egg!
7. Snack on the rest of the roasted kabocha while you prepare the following!
Chef’s note: If you are unable to find kabocha in your local grocer, you may substitute with another gourd of your choice, sweet potato, chestnuts or even canned pumpkin - be prepared to add more flour to compensate for added moisture.
7/8 cup warm water
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup or a combination of the two)
1 tbsp yeast
3 large eggs, warmed (add a 4th egg if adding 1 cup of kabocha purée)
1/4 cup oil (neutral-flavoured oil is best; olive oil is OK, but the bread will maintain some of its taste)
1 tbsp kosher salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (add roughly 1-1.5 more cups of flour to compensate for the 1 cup of kabocha purée and extra egg, humidity in the air, etc.!)
1. Heat the water kettle, and pour boiling water to warm up the bowl of your food mixer.
2. Warm up your eggs in a warm water bath.
3. Lightly coat the measuring cup with oil, then fill with honey/maple syrup (easier to get every last drop of it if it has an oil coating!).
4. In that same food mixer, stir honey/maple syrup into water (mix well).
5. Add yeast; let sit until yeast is dissolved and starting to work.
6. Roughly beat the eggs and add to bowl (or add to kabocha purée), reserving enough egg for a wash.
7. Add oil, salt and flour.
8. Mix until dough is shaggy and still a little moist, adding small amounts of flour or water if necessary. (Likely more flour, if you are adding kabocha and more egg).
9. Cover dough and let rise for two hours. (If your oven has a bread proof setting, mazal tov! If you don’t, heat your oven to 200 F when you are getting all of your ingredients onto the counter and turn it off once you’re about to start mixing, otherwise you can cook your dough while it’s rising.)
10. Turn dough out onto a floured counter or sheet of parchment paper (bigger is better so you have room to work – you can always trim the paper before the loaf goes into the oven).
11. Braid the loaf. For 6 strands, check out this video (higher quality, it’s Jamie Geller!) or this video (better instruction and viewing for learning). To turn into little pumpkin challahs, check out this blogpost.
12. Cover loaf with a slightly damp-ish cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
13. Set oven for 350 F. If you’re using a baking stone, put it in now to preheat; if it’s a baking sheet, 5 minutes before baking time is enough.
14. When the bread has risen, add a few drops of water to the reserved egg and brush the wash onto the entire surface of the loaf.
15. Sprinkle on poppy seeds, black or white sesame seeds and some Maldon sea salt flakes for extra crunch, then slide the bread into the oven, using a cutting board or other flat surface as a transfer vehicle if necessary.
16. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool, admire, bless and enjoy!
Carmel Tanaka (pronouns: she/her) is a queer Jewpanese woman of colour from Vancouver, BC, Canada and a Community Engagement professional. Her mother is Ashkenazi Israeli and her father is Japanese Canadian. She founded JQT Vancouver, (pronounced "J-Cutie") Vancouver's Jewish queer trans nonprofit, Genocide Prevention BC and was recently named one of Be'chol Lashon's 7 LGBTQ+ Jews of Color you should know. She also spearheads a monthly Zoom call for Jewpanese and their families from all over the world, so if you know any Jewpanese people in your life, please get in touch and we’ll connect you!