Challah Bread

Challah BreadEveryone seems to like this Challah Bread recipe. It is the traditional Friday night Shabbat offering. I make it for our Havarah and add raisins to this round version for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This recipe makes three normal sized loaves, either round or straight. For weddings and Bar Mitzvahs I use the whole recipe to make one large loaf.


2 packages or dry yeast ( 2 Tbs )
.5 cup of warm water
pinch of sugar

5 whole eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
.5 cup vegetable oil
1.5 cup warm water
1 Tbs kosher salt
9 – 10 cups of all purpose flour

1 egg mixed with 1 Tbs of water
poppy seeds or sesame seeds for garnish
Optional: 1 cup of raisin, golden or dark

Mix yeast, warm water and a pinch of sugar in a large measuring cup. While this is blooming beat 5 eggs in a stranding mixer bowl. Add 3/4 cups of sugar and beat again. Add the yeast mixture. Beat lightly. Mix in .5 cup of oil and 1.5 cup of water with the 1 tbs salt.

Once this is all together slowly add 2 – 3 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Slowly add the remaining 6 or 7 cups of flour. The weather seems to determine how much I add. Once this is done and all flour is in, turn out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and turn into an oil coated bowl for rising. Cover with a lid or dish towel. If using raisins you can mix them in using the mixer or when forming into loaves.

Let rise twice, punching down between risings. Know that you can also put this in the refrigerator overnight to hold and rise if you are running out of time. Let it come to room temp. before trying to work with it.

Now here’s the fun part. Punch down and divide into thirds. Divide each third into three long coils. Braid these coils and place on a parchment lined pan. Brush with the egg water mixture. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

I have a commercial size oven so I can put them all on a full sheet pan to bake at once.

Turn the oven to 140 and put the challah in the oven for 20 minutes. Raise the oven temp to 200 and bake for 15 minutes. Raise the temp to 275 and bake for 15 minutes. Finally raise the oven temp to 375 and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. If browning too fast cover with tin foil. I start on the bottom rack and turn and raise to the upper rack half way through cooking or when I turn the temp up for the last time. Let cool completely in the pan or on a wire rack.

Serve and make everyone happy! Shabbat Shalom

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Irish Soda Bread

I’m making Gravlax for a party this week and love to serve this bread with it.  It’s also good with cream cheese and Nova.

Irish Soda BreadMakes two loaves.


6 cups whole wheat flour
2 cup all purpose flour
2 scant  tsp salt
2 Tbl sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 cup currents ( optional)
2 Tbl Whole Fennel Seed ( chopped or crushed )
3 eggs
6 Tbl melted unsalted butter
3.5 cups of buttermilk

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter two long loaf pans.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl , including the fennel and currents if using. Stir until well combined.

NOTE:  For the fennel, I put it in a plastic bag and hit it with my food mallet until it is broken down.

In a large measuring cup measure the buttermilk. Add the eggs and whisk. Add the melted butter and whisk again. Add this to the flour mixture.  Stir until well combined using a rubber spatula and then your hands. Turn out onto a floured board.

Divide in half. Knead each piece until workable and shape into the form of the pan. Long ropes. Place in the buttered pans. Cut crosses on each loaf.

Bake at 375 for 30 – 40 minutes until lightly browned, depending on the heat of your oven. Let sit in the pan 20 minutes and then turn out. Let rest.

Slice thinly to serve with salmon of your choice, or other smoked fish.
Garnishes could include cream cheese, mustard sauce, dill, chopped red onion, capers.

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