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Monday, April 25, 2011

Challah (

Challah or khale is a special braided bread eaten by Ashkenazi Jews on the Sabbath and holidays. According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday night, Saturday lunch, and Saturday late afternoon) and two holiday meals (one at night and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of bread. This “double loaf” commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. The manna did not fall on the Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion would fall the day before the holiday or Sabbath. It is these hunks of bread, recognizable by their traditional braided style that are commonly referred to as challah. (I am not Jewish, but enjoy learning about Jewish traditions.) Serving Size : 24

1 1/3 c warm water, 120°

2 Tbsp organic butter, softened

1 Tbsp yeast

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/3 c honey

2 large organic eggs, beaten slightly

2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten

~4 c whole wheat flour +/- as needed (I used 3¾ c)

1. Place hot water in mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid). Add softened butter and mix to dissolve butter. Add 3 cups of flour and yeast. Mix well and let sponge for 15 min.

2. Stir down sponge and add oil, salt, honey, eggs, gluten and 2 c flour. Stir to mix. Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and clings to itself. The dough should not be very sticky, but still moist and supple. The amount of flour needed will vary. Let dough knead until very supple and springy and gluten is developed (by hand, 12-15 min, by large mixer 6-7 min).

3. Let rise, covered, until doubled ~1 hour. Punch dough down and divide into 2 portions. On oiled surface, divide each loaf into 4 portions. Roll each fourth into long snakes. Braid by starting with the left portion and running it over, under over under the other portions. Pinch each end of the loaf to seal. Roll loaf slightly longwise on counter before placing on the baking sheet. Let rise about 30 min.

4. Brush with glaze before baking. Bake at 350° for 22-25 min, or until done.

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