The holiday season will be in full swing with the start of Hanukkah, and I have already started celebrating by participating in my favorite holiday activity—baking.
After researching traditional Jewish recipes and deciding that doughnuts seemed way too challenging for me to start with, I found a challah recipe that seemed slightly more appropriate for my skill level. I’ll admit that even though I have mad skillz when preparing certain types of food, Jewish cuisine is unfortunately not one of them, because of a lack of experience.
I found that the challenge of making challah, an often cake-like bread, is not in the mixing or in the rising—which are fairly straightforward and only require time and patience. It’s all in the braiding. I couldn’t quite master the technique—and can only hope that truth, peace, and justice haven’t been compromised.
From certain angles, the loaf still looked lovely, and more importantly, it still tasted delicious. To me, warm, homemade bread is the perfect way to start any holiday celebration, regardless of how it looks.
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tsp. salt
Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
4 cups flour
Olive oil for brushing
•Mix the yeast and water in a large stainless steel bowl. Add the sugar, oil, and salt.
•Blend in the egg replacer and then the flour, adding just a little flour at a time to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
•Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning the dough to oil all sides. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch the dough down and remove to a lightly floured surface.
•Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and re-divide each into 3 equal parts. The latter should be shaped into 11-inch-long strips. Braid the 3 strips into a loaf and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat with the other 3 strips. Cover the loaves and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
•Brush the loaves with olive oil. Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes, or until done. Remove from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks.
Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large loaf