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Beshallach Challah

<em>Beshallach</em> Challah Related:   bread & savory pastries, breakfast & brunch, kid-friendly, low-fat, pareve, Shabbat, vegetarian

Prep time: 30-45 mins + rising

Cook time: 45 mins

Yield: 2 challot

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This is the challah I made on my blog for Beshallach, the weekly Torah portion that discusses manna, as the two challot represent the double portion of manna received before Shabbat. This is my updated version of a recipe by Freda Reider in The Hallah Book: Recipes, History and Tradition. Making your own challah is a sustainable way of contributing to a Shabbat meal, especially when made with local honey and humanely raised eggs (or flaxseed “eggs”).

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups water (1 cup boiling, ½ cup cold)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup honey (support a local beekeeper)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (I used fresh yeast, but dry also works)
  • 3 humanely raised eggs or flaxseed "eggs" (3 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 9 tablespoons water and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 5-6 cups flour (try ½ whole wheat, ½ white)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • ½ cup organic raisins
  • Optional toppings: sesame seeds, za’atar or cinnamon

Preparation

  • Place water, oil, honey, salt, yeast and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to “proof” (start to bubble). Using a large wooden spoon, stir the flour into the liquid, 1 cup at a time. Continue to add flour, mixing and blending, until the dough begins to ball up and leave the sides of the bowl. Gather the dough into a ball and knead for approximately 10 minutes. If it becomes sticky, sprinkle flour on your hands.
  • Gather the challah into a smooth, round ball. Pick it up and drizzle a bit of olive oil along the sides and bottom of the bowl to prevent the dough from sticking. Then put dough back into the bowl. Place a cover over the bowl. Let the dough rise in a warm place (I wrap towels around the bowl sometimes) and don’t move it. Let the dough rise to double in size. (I leave mine overnight to find it pouring out of the bowl onto the counter in the morning.) Knead the dough a second time for a few minutes and let rise again. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flour-covered counter or board. Fold in raisins. (I try to keep the raisins on the inside of the challah so that they aren’t exposed and don’t burn.) Braid or shape your challah (click here for ideas).
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place challot on cookie sheets or in baking tins. If you use eggs, then you can brush an egg wash on the dough (an additional egg beaten with a bit of water). If you are adding seeds on top, add them now, too. You have the option here to let it rise again for a third time until it doubles in size. Then, bake for approximately 45 minutes until lightly brown and firm on the outside. Remove from oven and let cool completely on an elevated rack.
  • Note: This recipe does not use enough flour for hafrashat challah (separating of challah). The separating of challah is symbolic of the separated challah portion given to the Kohanim (priests) during the Temple period. If you are using more flour, here are the requirements for taking out a portion as well as the prayer that is said.

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