I keep a kosher home, which I didn’t start to do until I married Solomon. It’s not so difficult to do, just takes a little planning, and careful grocery shopping, to make sure the products I buy are OK to be brought into my home. Solomon’s family is a lot more observant than mine, and once we started dating, we began to go to a lot of Shabbat dinners, which recognize the Jewish day of rest. There are a lot of rules and rituals involved, and slowly we have forged our own path and decided how we wanted to observe. The truth is, Shabbat is most of the reason I don’t take photos of my food,and food journal on my blog. Electricity is not really allowed on Shabbat, and taking pictures is out of the question. It doesn’t bother me personally to do, since I am not religious, but more a spiritual and ethnic Jew, but out of respect for people I eat with I choose not to take any pictures.
Anyway, a big part of Shabbat (in fact, most Jewish holidays and events) is the challah:
This “double loaf” (in Hebrew: lechem mishneh) commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. The manna did not fall on the Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion fell before the Sabbath and holidays. It is these hunks of bread, recognizable by their traditional braided style, that are commonly referred to as challah.
Eventually, I began to make my own challah to bring to Shabbat dinners, and after much trial and error, I have found an amazing recipe that please everyone. It’s so simple, looks beautiful, tastes delicious, and makes awesome french toast the next day :). I use a bread machine to make the dough, so all of the work is done for me, and once I dump everything into the bread machine, I have an hour and a half to do whatever I need to do! I don’t know where I found this recipe, but if you do, please let me know so I can give credit where it is due!
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. yeast
-Put the wet ingredients (water, eggs and oil) in the bread machine.
-Next, pour the salt, flour and sugar on top. Make a small well in the top of your dry ingredients, and put the yeast in.
-Set the bread machine to dough function, let it do it’s thing! You will end up with a lovely ball of dough!
I like to flour a cutting board, and use a pastry scraper to divide the ball of dough into 2 balls. I don’t measure them, since precision is not important here, I like it to be inconsistent, I think it looks rustic.
I then divide each ball into three balls, which I roll out into snakes (or as my nephew would say: “I made a ‘nake.”). Lay the 3 snakes side by side, pinch the ends together, and braid the dough, pinching the ends of the other side once the braid is complete. Repeat this with the other ball of dough.
Let the two braided loaves sit on a greased (with cooking spray) baking pan, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, then set oven to 350 degrees. Mix an egg with a little bit of water, and using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash on both loaves. You can put sesame seeds or poppy seeds on your bread now if you like.
Put both loaves in the oven for 25-30 minutes. At the halfway point, I like to take the loaves out and give them another egg wash, for flavor and aesthetics! The loaves are done once they are lightly browned.