Homemade Challah

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As a research to the character I’m playing for The Choice, I attempted to bake a traditional Jewish Bread called challah.

According to Wikipedia, challah is a special Jewish bread eaten on Sabbath and Holidays:

According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and two holiday meals (one at night and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of bread.[4] 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 Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion would fall the day before the holiday or sabbath.[5] Each single loaf is woven with six strands. Together, both loaves have twelve which represent each tribe of Israel.

Here lies my adventure in attempting to make this bread.

The ingredients are quite simple:

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2tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 packages active dry yeast, 7 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups water, 6 tbsp salad oil, and 6 eggs.

First, combine sugar, salt, yeast and two cups of flour in a large bowl.

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Then, in a saucepan over low heat, heat water and oil until very warm (around 120’F — similar to the feel of a slight fever).

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With a hand mixer at a low speed, gradually beat the liquid into dry ingredients– beat just until mixed. Then increase to medium and beat for two minutes.

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Set aside two egg yolks. Add the remaining eggs, egg whites, and four cups of flour gradually, to make a soft dough.

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On a clean and lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, for about five minutes, adding more flour while kneading.

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Shape it into a ball and place in a greased large bowl, turning to grease top.

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Cover it with towel and set aside for one hour. Be sure that you leave it in a warm place.

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After one hour, its size should have doubled. Punch it down and turn dough onto lightly floured surface; cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

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While waiting for that, grease one large cookie sheet.

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Here comes them fun part: preparing the breaded loaves!

Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Divide 1 piece into thirds and roll each of them into a 16-inch-long rope.

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Braid it! Pinch the ends to seal and put it in the greased pan. Do the same with the other big piece.

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For the last big piece, divide it into six and roll each piece into 17-inch-long rope.

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Place the smaller braids on top of the two large ones. Tuck ends of the top braid under the bottom braid, stretching it if necessary.

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I was supposed to arrange the loaves at least five inches apart from each other, cover, and let it rise in a warm place for one more hour, but I only managed to do one inch. This was how it looked like after one hour.

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Preheat the oven to 375’F. Brush top and sides of loaf with The reserved egg yolks.

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Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Here’s the final product:

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Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire racks.

Yes, it smelled and tasted as good as it looked 🙂

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I started baking around 12 noon, and I finished around 5:30pm, excusing myself from my students from time to time. I let them taste the bread, and they all said it was yummy! Only this is left, and I will bring it to the Ortigas Wednesday Group tonight, to let them taste it 😉

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I hope they will like it.

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