Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet Challah for a sweet new year

I realized that Smitten Kitchen readers were coming here to look for my Challah recipe, and I was disappointing them as I don't believe I've ever posted it. So for you cooks who want to make the best darn Challah in the world, here is the recipe for you! This is the second recipe in the first Jewish Catalog (did you get that?), first published in the 1970's when I was in college. I still have my original copy. This is a very very rich Challah, very moist, very fragrant, and tastes like the olde country (not that I've ever BEEN to the old country, which in my case would be Latvia, but...). It is NOT pareve. If that matters to you (and it does to me) substitute Mother's Salted Margerine for the butter. It isn't quite the same, but it's close enough.

You can make this in a bread machine if you half the recipe. You can make it in your kitchenaid if you don't mind watching the poor machine struggle to mix up this much dough. Or, like me, you can make this stuff by hand. It will make 4 loaves, 2-3 round challah, and at least 3 braids.

The world's best challah

2 cups lukewarm water
3 packages yeast
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter or margerine
5 eggs
8 cups flour

Mix water and yeast in a superhuge bowl. Add 3 cups flour and 1 cup sugar. Stir with fork and let rise for an half hour in a warm place. I'm partial to my oven to proof this dough.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, measure five cups of flour, salt, and a half cut of sugar. Add the margarine/ butter and cut with a pastry cutter/knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

At the end of a half hour, add 4 beaten eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well. Mix will decrease in volume.

Add the flour-margarine mixture to yeast mixture and work in bowl. If sticky, add up to two more cups of flour. Knead well on a floured board until smooth and elastic.

Put in oiled bowl and cover with CLEAN dish towel, dusted with flour. Put in warm place and let rise two hours or until doubled in size.

Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.

Divide dough into parts, depending upon how much challot you want. This recipe makes 4 small-medium loaves, 3 medium loaves, 2 large loaves, 1 superhuge wedding special.

Braid the loaves. Place on oiled baking sheets, cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible. Three to five hours is just fine. The longer you let it rise, being careful not to kill the yeast, the lighter your loaves will be. When it is done rising, brush the tops with beaten egg, add sesame or poppy seeds, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

I promise you, even though this might take a bit more time than your normal challah recipe, when you see the gluten strands and taste how sweet and rich it is with all those eggs, you're gonna be hooked!

Le' Shana Tovah

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Blogger bethany actually said...

Ohhhh, YUM! I love challah, and this recipe sounds fantastic. Hey, if Alan Ginsberg liked it, that's good enough for me! ;-)

Hmm, what is the typical Rosh Hashana greeting? I was going to wish you a good or happy or blessed one, but don't know what is usually said.

28/9/08 5:55 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

what is a "cut" of sugar?

28/9/08 7:32 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

Margalit, thank you so much! I'm on crutches and not allowed to go up/down stairs, which is where my First Jewish Catalog is, and this is the recipe I want to make for tomorrow's dinner. Would it be ok for tomorrow if I make it today?

And bethany, the typical RH greeting is "L'shana Tova U'metuka", a sweet and happy year.

29/9/08 8:34 AM  
Blogger margalit said...


Beautiful name! Yes, it will be absolutely FINE if you make it a day or two in advance. Just put it in a brown paper bag so that it stays safe.

29/9/08 3:21 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm actually not going to be making any bread due to incredible laziness, but how much do I want a "Challah at Ya" tee shirt?

So much. But, not being Jewish, I think it might come across as tacky...

29/9/08 3:56 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Kristin, where did you see a Challah at Ya T-shirt. I might have to have one myself.

29/9/08 4:20 PM  

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