This week I attempted a six-braided Challah for the first time. I didn’t have a cookie sheet, and had to put it in a 9×13 pan. My Challah just grew and grew and grew. It’s not perfect, but neither am I. I can’t let how my Challah looks stop me from the Mitzvah of making it. Jewish women have three “Mitzvahs” that they are ultimately responsible for, and one is “taking challah”. Each week, we prepare for Shabbos by preparing our Challah dough and kneading it, all the while davening for those who we have in mind. When the dough is ready to separate into loaves, we remove an amount the size of an egg (a k’zayis). We take this, wrap it in foil and place it in an oven to burn. Nothing else can cook while this is burning. This act is called “taking Challah”.We can purchase our Challah from a bakery, but there is something so wonderful about being able to take all your prayers and giving them to Hashem while you knead away at the end of your week. There has been so many tragedies lately, and I just want to be able to continue to daven that Hashem will hear our prayers. It’s so amazing how food is connected to something so spiritual. Here is my recipe for Challah in which Challah is taken without a bracha (blessing)
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup honey
2 1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp salt
10 cups flour
Mix yeast, water and honey in bowl and allow to sit until yeast bubbles (30 minutes).
Add checked eggs to oil and salt and mix. Add to yeast. Gradually add flour to dough mixture, incorporating it one cup at a time.
Continue kneading until you get a smooth ball. If the dough is too sticky, add flour 2 tablespoons at a time. Knead until smooth. Cover with oil and place plastic wrap over the bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel to keep in the heat and let sit in a warm place for 15 minutes. This is where you take it and knead it one more time to activate the gluten. Once it’s kneaded and smooth, add some more oil to the dough, wrap again and let sit for an hour.
*Take Challah dough, wrap it in foil and place it fo burn in a high oven.
Separate dough into equal parts. I like to pull enough dough to fill my hand. Roll in balls and set aside. Take each ball, and roll on floured surface with the palm of your hand to make long, skinny dough like tubes. The easiest is the three braided Challah.
Cover and let rise until double in size. Take one egg beaten with a little water and brush into Challah. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Place into 350F oven for 20 minutes. Turn up to 400F and let it bake until it’s brown (an additional 5 -10 minutes).
This recipe makes 2 large challahs or 4 small ones.
(recipe adapted from old Lubavitch cookbook. I’ve been using this for years)