Sunday evening kicked off the high holy day season of Judaism with Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and we celebrate with all sorts of sweet foods. Apples and honey, noodle kugel (usually with cinnamon, sugar, and raisins), round raisin challah, and typically a sweetened main dish (some families have honey baked chicken). Challah is braided bread we eat in celebration of almost all major life events. It’s usually a typical braid, but for the high holy day season, the challah is a round braid and sweetened with honey, cinnamon-sugar, and raisins — or some combination of the three.
Braiding challah is one of the most stressful activities of any normal Shabbat (Sabbath) celebration, but the round challah is particularly stressful since it’s for such important holidays. The following recipe is my basic challah recipe and you can braid it in a three-strand, four-strand, or round braid. And you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy a good challah. It makes excellent French toast, and challah is fantastic for carb-loading during marathon training. 🙂
Note: read through the entire recipe before beginning. If you’re new to bread, be patient. Bread takes a long time but it’s worth it in the end.
Round Raisin Challah
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 C warm water
- 1 pkg yeast
- 1/2 C oil
- 1/2 C warm water
- 1/4 C sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 4 C flour
- 1 egg yolk, beaten w/ 1 tsp water
- 1 C golden raisins
- cinnamon-sugar, to taste
Rinse a large metal mixing bowl with hot water. Grease a second large bowl and set aside. Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in the bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in oil, water, sugar, salt, eggs, and 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Stir in the remaining flour. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
Flour a board (or a clean countertop). Turn out the dough and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Round up the dough into the greased bowl. Cover the dough with the kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for two hours.
Punch the dough down. Cover and let the dough rise again for one hour.
Braiding the Challah
Divide the dough into four strands. Flatten each strand with a rolling pin and sprinkle with raisins. Roll the strands up so they’re back to the shape of a snake and so all the raisins are hidden. Arrange the four strands in a tic-tac-toe pattern, alternating over/under. To start the braid, take the “under” piece and place it over it’s partner. Do this for all the strands. Then reverse the order and take the “under” piece again and place it over it’s partner. Keep doing this until the strands are short. To finish the braid, take the remaining strands and pinch them into the middle of the challah. When all pieces are pinched together, turn the challah over and place it on a baking sheet.
Allow the braided challah to rise under a kitchen towel for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. While the oven is preheating, paint the challah with the egg wash. Sprinkle with a hint of cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes (depending on how large your challah is) or until the center reads 190˚F with an oven thermometer.
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
I promise it’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems. Once you get going you’ll get the hang of it. It’s really delicious and won’t disappoint.
This is a simple way to braid a challah (3-strand and round), but this is not the braid I use.
Here’s a wonderful tutorial on how to weave a round challah, like I did in the photos above. This is where I got the idea for the cinnamon-sugar and I agree, it’s out of this world.
For those of you celebrating, L’shana Tovah! May your year be full of sweetness and love.
TALK TO ME!
Have you had challah before?
What’s your favorite way to enjoy challah after a holiday or big meal?
And now it’s time for the fabulous Meatless Monday linkup with Annmarie and me! Follow us each week as we share meatless recipes and other food tips with you. Don’t forget to link up and read others’ posts!