Over the past month, I have been on an epic quest for the perfect Challah recipe. I have found myself to be Challah-obsessed, making batches of up to 8 Challah twice a week. You may be asking yourself questions about this, like WTF has possessed her to do this? Who is eating all of that challah? And maybe even, what recipes has she tried?
First, the why: Challah is magical. It’s beautiful, sweet and full of meaning and tradition. The process of making it is meditative – you start with the simplest of ingredients, you fully immerse yourself in transforming those ingredients by kneading, waiting for the dough to rise, then shaping and braiding, and through that process create something totally beautiful and unique. As I look to create family traditions for our young kids, this feels like a ritual I want to embrace and master. As the weather turns cold, it seems like the right time to tackle this.
The Who: A big part of my infatuation with Challah making has been getting to share it. Mike, Sam and Hannah have definitely not complained about the abundance of freshly baked bread in our lives. I have given Challah to friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. I have also been saving Challah in the freezer for a bake sale at work next week. The gift of Challah is best when shared. Interested in trying some or baking with me? Please let me know! I would be delighted to share with you.
**Note – there is no such thing as a bad or ugly challah. I’m being super critical here, we enjoyed every loaf that’s come out of the oven.
1.Joan Nathan’s Perfect Challah – a bit too dense and not sweet enough for my taste.
2. Joan Nathan’s recipe above but with double the sugar and extra water: definitely sweeter, but still a bit dense and the dough didn’t hold its shape well. Lesson learned: yeast is complicated, it’s better to stick to a recipe vs making one up yourself.
3. Julia Child’s recipe – this one uses butter and milk instead of oil. Softer and lovely but not quite sweet enough for my taste.
4. Rebbetzin Rochie’s Classic Challah from Rising – The Book of Challah. Now we’re getting somewhere – sweeter and softer.
5. Butter Challah recipe from Rising – The Book of Challah – bingo. This is the winner. Add a glaze that is 1 egg, 2 TBSP sugar and 2 TBSP vanilla, and now we’re in business.
I am not sure where this Challah journey will take me. Maybe it will fizzle out next week, or maybe I will be a lifelong bread baker. Like challah, that’s kind of the beauty of it – you have to wait and see.
Until We Eat Again,
Two Happy Cooks