HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
Yes. I’m back. Sorry if anyone got their hopes up that I was gone forever. (Okay, I’m not sorry.)
And I know what you must be thinking- back in time for Rosh Hashana and the High Holidays, what excellent timing! Well thank you. We have a lot to cover and not a lot of webpage to do it, so let’s get cracking.
For those of you less versed in Jewish culture here are some FAQ’s I just made up:
“What is this New Year you’re speaking of?” Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, of course! This year it started Sunday evening.
“High Holidays? Is that a college thing? Because I don’t do that anymore…” Okay, that probably wasn’t a real question that anyone asked, I just really wanted to incorporate this really cute picture I found on Chabad- UMN’s facebook page.
But in real life, the High Holidays are just considered High Holy Days, or Days of Awe, in Jewish religion. They remind me of Maundy Thursday or Good Friday in Christian culture- days when the church is filled with people you’ve never seen before. (A.K.A. the “twice a year crowd.”) The services are long, and are focused on “repentance and the hope of renewal.”
One of the best things about long services is how satisfying the food you eat after is, and I think you’re really going to like this one.
I’ll give you a minute to get out your magnifying glasses to actually see that picture. … Yeah, I’ve taken better pictures. However, funny story, I was using my friend Katie’s phone to take the pics for this. Why? Because my phone is currently out of commission. … I don’t want to talk about it.
Mind you, that is only a slice of the beautiful challah I created. Feast your eyes (and magnifying glasses)-
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (it’s really only one standard packet)
- 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/3 cup neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
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 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.
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.
Weave your bread: Go to Deb’s blog for directions and step-by-step pictures for how to create a gorgeous round challah.
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 is with an instant read thermometer — the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.
I took these directions for the bread directly from Smitten Kitchen’s blog, where I found the original recipe, because Deb explained it much more clearly than I could ever attempt.
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1-2 apples diced
- 3 Tbs. butter
- Honey to taste
- Heat the brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
- As it liquefies, push the melted sugar around slightly. Don’t stir it around, just move it enough to keep it from burning. Feel free to turn the heat to low if you feel like you’re going to burn it.
- Once it is as liquid as you desire, mix in the butter and diced apples. (The heat should definitely be on low by now, if not already.)
Rather than making your whole beautiful loaf soggy at once, what I did was to slice the challah, drizzle honey across it, then spoon the caramel sauce over that. It really is best served warm.
If you’re a fan of traditional Apple and Honey Challah, then I would definitely give this one a try for either dessert or breakfast.
Big thanks, again, to Deb from Smitten Kitchen, for the fantastic recipe!
Does anyone reading have any favorite challah recipes?