This week Dale is offering us a recipe for Challah—a Jewish celebratory bread, egg-smooth with saffron. Challah is baked for the celebration of the Jewish Sabbath and High Holy Days. It commemorates the manna that fell when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt.
The custom is to make two loaves, each of which is separated into six long strands and braided. The twelve strands represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
How long has it been since you’ve made your very own yeast bread? Just the thought of it is enough to think we smell it baking, its yeasty fragrance wafting through the house. Well, I think Dale’s recipe is flat-out inspiring. Let’s go for it, braiding and all.
Challah (the C is silent, so it is pronounced HA-la) is a Jewish bread baked most often for holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I found it in the grocery store a few months ago and loved its egg rich smoothness and golden color enhanced by saffron. The next week I asked for it again and was told that they didn’t carry the kind with raisins in it anymore. Well, I thought, I’ll just make my own! I thought you might enjoy it too, so here it is.
You will Need:
1 pkg. Rapid Rise dry yeast 1 tsp. of Salt
¼ cup of Honey 3 egg yolks
1 cup of Hot Water ¼ cup of Canola Oil
½ cup of Golden Raisins 1 pinch of Saffron
¼ cup of Hot Water 3 cups of Bread Flour
¼ cup of cognac
1. Rehydrate the ½ cup of Raisins by soaking them in ¼ cup of hot water (from the tap is fine) and the ¼ cup of cognac.
2. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Mix the whites in your scrambled eggs tomorrow morning.
3. Coat the inside of a loaf pan with butter, oil or shortening.
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in half of the hot water and half of the honey. If you are going to knead the dough with your mixer, use the mixing bowl. Stir it a little with a whisk. It will take five to ten minutes to proof. When the yeast starts to foam add the rest of the water and honey.
1. Add the salt, egg yolks, oil and saffron. Stir it together with the whisk.
2. Add 2 and ½ cups of the flour and stir it with a spoon until mixed. Add the other ½ cup of flour and stir until you have a ball of dough.
Knead the dough for ten minutes by hand or in your mixer with a dough hook. Drain the raisins and incorporate them during the last two minutes of kneading.
Coat the inside of a large bowl with oil or butter. Put the ball of dough in the bowl, then turn the ball upside down so that the oil has coated the dough on all sides. Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment in a warm place (warm, not hot) until it has doubled in size. That will take about an hour, so go do something fun for awhile.
1. When the dough has doubled in size turn the dough out on a clean surface and flatten it to remove the air. Next, roll it up and shape it into a loaf. Push, squeeze or pound it to get a tight loaf shape.
2. Place the loaf into the prepared pan. Push it down to fill the pan.
3. Challah is usually braided for the holidays. If you are adventurous, try it. Cut the dough in three (or six) equal pieces and roll them out to make “snakes” about 14 to 16 inches long. Squeeze the ends together and braid as you would rope or hair or anything else. Bake on a sheet pan instead of a loaf pan.
1. Cover the pan with a damp towel and let it proof in a warm place until it rises a half inch or so above the top of the pan. That will take another hour. So go finish the book that you were reading or do a few pushups.
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
1. Bake the loaf until it is a deep golden brown.
2. Let it rest on a cooling rack for ten or fifteen minutes, then take it out of the pan.
3. Quickly, before anyone else spies it, cut off a slice for yourself. You are supposed to taste what you cook. Right?
P.S. I just had my slice and it was very good!
Food for Thought:
Celebrating the Word
“You are hungry and about to die, I can see it. I know it. But don’t worry I have an idea: turn these stones to bread. You can do it, Jesus and you’ll be the talk of the town.” So said Satan to the Son of God toward the end of his 40 days of temptation in the wilderness.
And what did Jesus say? Something like this: “My bread is every word that comes out of God’s mouth. His words sustain me even more than physical bread. And because I’ve hidden them in my heart, I know that your words are not His. So get out of here, Old Serpent. I don’t need your devious ideas.”
Physical bread gives us nourishment, strength and energy, and so does the spiritual bread of God’s Word.
God’s Word nourishes us by showing us “the truth which alone stands well.” It is living and has the power to dig down to the deepest parts of our being and reveal what’s really there. “Am I fearful because I’m afraid I won’t do a good job for the Lord in the assignment he has given, or is it simply my pride wanting to look good before others? “Pride goeth before a fall”[Proverbs 16:18].
Like Challah bread the Word of God strengthens us. It assures us of God’s Presence with us, companioning us wherever we go. We pray “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ to my right, Christ to my left.”
God’s answer? Never, never, never will I forsake you.[Hebrews 13:5)
Like bread the Word energizes us. It gives us parameters to work in by showing us what kind of things are not the will of God. And it assures us that if we want to know God’s will He will reveal it. And so we can stride forth confidently, boldly, energetically, knowing we’re in His will
“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Over and over again we’re encouraged to meditate on the Word of God, consider it carefully, ponder it and look for it’s inner meaning. It will change our lives.
Now I think I’ll do a little changing in the air about me by stirring up some Challah. Want to join me? [RuthAnn]