It's that time of year again, the holidays are coming. The holidays mean a lot of things to different people, but one thing they mean for sure is food. Comfort foods for many. Chicken soup and kneidel (matzoh balls), things like chopped liver, mom's brisket recipe, family favorites- traditional foods that we look forward to each year. Apples and honey are a classic, Challah and honey.. what are your family holiday staples?
One food that we eat all year, but has its special place on yomtov is challah. Our challos that we make for this season are round in shape rather than braided, to symbolize many spiritual things, one being the cyclical nature of the world. So, I have fun playing with different ways to make and shape my challah this time of year, as well as different fillings and toppings for my challah. Im typically a traditionalist when it comes to challah, (and this recipe is so divine that I like to leave it fairly "plain" adding just a simple topping, like garlic, poppyseed, sesame seeds, or of course, Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Spice and then providing tons of dips for it!) But, this time of year I always have requests from family for raisins, cinnamon and sugar, apples and cinnamon, sweet things and more, so I oblige.
This recipe originates from the Shlucha at The Ohio State University Chabad House- Sarah Deitsch. It is one of the best i've ever had, and what makes it better is that it is EASY to make. I don't use a mixer, I don't knead it, and I don't punch it down 10.000 times. Try it out, and let me know what you think! And, share your variation and favorite topping picks!
The Most Delicious Challah
3 Tbsp Yeast
4 C warm water
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 C oil
13-14 C flour (I don't measure.. I just dump a 5lb bag in, reserving about 2 C in the bag)
Preheat oven to 350 F
In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 Tbsp sugar, and warm water. Let it sit until foamy/bubbly
In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, eggs & oil. Mix well, and then add to the yeast mixture.
Add flour to to the above ingredients, and mix until blended (do not over knead).
Cover the dough with a warm, damp towel to aid in rising.
Allow to rise for at least 2 hours (I often go up to 3-4 if i'm out or busy)
Punch dough down, take challah, separate and braid/shape.
I use an egg wash for the top, and then top with whatever!
Crushed garlic and parsley
Everything but the Bagel Spice
Bake for about 40 minutes.
Note: This challah freezes REALLY well.
I often (usually) bake it, allow it to cool, wrap it tightly in foil, and then freeze it.
On the day that we want to eat the challah, I will remove it from the freezer a few hours ahead of time, leave it wrapped on the counter, and then reheat prior to eating to serve it warm (open not sealed) in the oven.