I love tradition. So many of us are only two generations removed from our ancestors who crossed the pond to come to America. Many of us were raised with deep traditions that have taken a back seat to our fast-paced American lives. For me, I was raised with the traditions of Eastern European Jews.
Our Thanksgiving table had things on that table that I, to this day, do not know how to pronounce or where to find it. As our families secularized and the old traditions seemed not to be as important as they once were, I still cling to wanting to share with my grandchildren who I am and how I grew up when I was their age.
My full identity was that I was a Jew. I want to pass down what that means to me to my grandchildren, and this is what one of my most trusted rabbis told me: “Marla, if you do nothing else, every week make challah with your grandchildren and light Shabbat candles.”
This recipe is so easy and helps me keep our traditions alive. Since my granddaughter, my little “Doll Face”, was two years old, we have been making challah together. It’s a good thing she can’t remember that when we started it was as hard and heavy as a hockey puck, LOL! But it’s been perfected now.
Remember when you bake bread it never turns out exactly the same each week. It takes on the essence of you in that moment. If you are being distracted, if you are happy and joyful, if you are angry or feeling stressed your bread reflects back to you where you have been in the present moment while making it. Baking bread is like yoga or anything that brings you into the now. Just watch. Enjoy!
10 or just 4 – Regardless there is never challah left over.
3 hours 15 minutes
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. rapid rise yeast
- 2/3 C. warm water
- 4 ½ C. bread flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 C. sugar
- 1/3 C. avocado oil
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- ¾ C. warm water
- 1 egg for egg wash prior to baking
Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water and spin gently with a fork. Let sit for about 5 minutes till the yeast gives you about a one inch foamy top or more.
Put flour in mixer, make a well, and add the eggs, sugar, oil salt, water and yeast mixture. Mix on low just until ingredients are incorporated (about 30 seconds).
Change mixer to dough hook and knead for about five minutes. Add more flour if needed. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.
Place the bowl of dough in a warm dark place, which for me is my oven set at 125 degrees. Let dough rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Punch the dough down. Braid the dough into one big or two small loaves.
Place braids on greased (or Silpat) baking sheet, cover and let rise for another 30 mins to 1 hour.
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.
Brush tops of loaves with egg wash (one egg + one Tbsp. water).
Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, or coarse salt, or Trader Joe’s Everything but the bagel seasoning if desired.
Bake one large loaf at convection at 325 degrees for 35 mins, or two small loaves at convection at 325 degrees for 30 mins.
For High Holy Days, I add one cup raisins and instead of braiding place in a circle on a baking sheet or into a spring form pan. Enjoy!
Tip: The “rule of thumb” for conventional ovens when translating from convection oven times and temps: the oven should be 25 degrees warmer than convection recipes and cook for 10 minutes longer.
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