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Learn to Bake Challah

 

Challah baking
Challah Three Recipes!

By Jessica Weissman

Notes from the Completed Class

This past winter Kol Nashim held a challah demonstration.  We baked three unfamiliar types of challah.

First, a Sephardic pumpkin challah

This is a moist and tasty challah that Cynthia Peterman used to demonstrate one type of six-strand braiding.  It comes from Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World.  This book includes more than a dozen challah recipes plus many other types of Jewish bread, including many Sephardi, Mizrachi, and Yemenite breads.  To see a close variation on the recipe we used, check this link:

http://rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com/2007/09/pumpkin-challah.html

The book is temporarily out of print, but copies are available at jessicasbiscuit.com and from various used book sources. (Ed. note, it was available on Amazon as of yesterday.)  It is also in some libraries.  Well worth getting hold of, and the recipes all work.  Her pita recipe and her noon rogani are both delicious, and there are many more to try.

Here is a YouTube vidoe demonstrating Cynthia's technique for six-strand braiding.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22p3wIHLupc

Fig and Olive Oil Challah

We used a recipe from Deb Pearlman's Smitten Kitchen blog.  The recipe is here, including directions for her original and simple method of braiding a four-strand round challah:

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/09/fig-olive-oil-and-sea-salt-challah-book-tour/

Her basic idea of including a filling in challah strands can be taken beyond fig, of course - canned cinnamon filling, dried apricot paste and others would work - without taking the challah too far into the cake or pastry realm.

A One Hour Challah

Joan Nathan includes in her book on French Jewish cooking (Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France).  You're right if you think that what you get in one hour isn't quite like traditional challah.  But it is quite acceptable, and really does go from a pile of ingredients into a baked and finished loaf in an hour.  If you want to cool the bread fully for better texture add another half hour to that time.  Joan Nathan demonstrated the process for the Washington Post food section in 2011:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/09/AR2010110903320.html

So if you're tired of trying to reproduce your grandmother's challah (you know, the one she would never give you the complete recipe for), free yourself!  Try one of these, and let me know how it goes.

From Mark Berch, another sixstranded You Tube video, but in this video  the strands are color-coded which makes it easy to follow.

http://www.couldntbeparve.com/2012/10/six-strand-challah-braid-tutorial/